Algeria give Belgium early scare
The day’s opening game saw Group H favourites Belgium take on an Algeria side that has never progressed from the group stages of the World Cup.
Belgium, who are expected to make short work of the World Cup’s “easiest” group, started the game in complete control – the ability of their players was on full display as they passed the ball around with ease.
But 24 minutes into the game, Algeria scored a goal that threatened to change the dynamic of Group H. With only their first real attack of the game, the Algerians drove into Belgium’s penalty box, forcing Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen to bring down Sofiane Feghouli.
The ensuing penalty was duly converted by Feghouli, and the Algerians hung on to take a surprise lead into half time.
Belgium responded strongly after the half – eventually, Marouane Fellaini met a cross to score a 70th-minute equalizer, and only 10 minutes later Belgian substitute Dries Mertens completed yet another comeback win at this summer’s World Cup.
The Belgians now control Group H (just as they were expected to), but they will need to improve. This hard-fought victory was a reminder that no matter how easy the opponent seems, this World Cup is ready to serve up surprises.
Mexico hold Brazil to entertaining draw
The tournament hosts continued their World Cup with a game against Mexico, looking for a second win that would all but guarantee their expected progression to the knockout rounds.
But against Mexico, they met a worthy opponent. Right from the off, the game promised to be a close encounter.
The teams exchanged shots throughout the game, and while Mexico struggled to test Brazil’s goalkeeper, Brazil were much more dangerous with their shots.
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa’s performance had the made the whole world sit up and take notice – the shot-stopper saved 6 shots, many of which were point-blank saves to keep his country level.
His heroics earned his side a 0-0 draw as the Mexicans nullified Neymar and the rest of Brazil’s offence.
Both teams now have four points from two games in Group A, and Brazil will go into their final game against Cameroon confident of claiming top spot.
Russia and Korea trade blows in Group H showdown
The only two teams yet to play a game took to the field in the day’s final matchup.
With Algeria having lost their earlier clash against Belgium, both Russia and South Korea knew that three points could put them in pole position for progression from Group H.
But there was little to seperate the teams; South Korea were gifted the lead as Keun-Ho Lee pounced upon an awful error from Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
The lead didn’t last long though – just six minutes later, Russian substitute Aleksander Kerzhakov scored a goal to level the game and raise even more question marks as to why he didn’t start in the first place.
South Korea will feel that they were the better team, but both teams had to settle for a 1-1 tie, and they’ll both need to improve for what’s to come.
With only a point gained each, neither team has put Algeria out of site, and second spot in Group H will likely be a three-way dogfight.
Two draws, but plenty of action
Day 6 brought two draws, but both were far from disappointing. Even Brazil’s goalless encounter with Mexico was packed full of action, and if not for Ochoa, there could have been plenty of goals.
Teams are playing their second matches of the tournament now, and the action will get even better. Roll on!