Algeria drew 1-1 with Russia to confirm their first ever appearance in the knockout stages at the FIFA World Cup™ finals at Arena da Baixada,Curitiba on Thursday. Six minutes into the match the Russians found the back of the net thanks to Alexander Kokorin who jumped the highest to send a great Oleg Shatov cross goalwards leaving the keeper with no chance. The match produced an intense midfield battle with both sides exchanging heavy blows.
Fabio Capello’s troops looked more menacing going forward but luck eluded them. Shatov came close in the 26th minute but his shot went narrowly wide. The Africans pushed their opponents further back in the final stages of the first half and forced Igor Akinfeev to make a handful of saves but they would go the break trailing by a single goal.
The Europeans had a bright start to the second half with Alexander Samedov spearheading a quick one-two in the 47th minute only to be denied by Rais Mbolhi at the end of it. After a series of fruitless attempts by either side, Islam Slimani provided a game changing moment in the 60th minute. The 26-year old Sporting Lisbon striker was at the receiving end of a well-taken Yacine Brahimi free kick which the keeper failed to clear and he nodded home.
Capello’s troops tried to claw their way back into the match deep into the second stanza but Mbolhi was unshaken in goal. Knowing a draw was enough to see them through, the Desert Foxes parked the bus to the final whistle and joined Nigeria as the two sides to represent Africa at the knockout stages; the first time the continent has achieved this feat. The Algerians will face Germany in the Last 16.