South Korea vs. Algeria: 6 Things We Learned
Algeria edged closer to qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup with a thrilling 4-2 victory over South Korea in Porto Alegre on Sunday.
The North Africans blew their opponents away in the first half, with three goals in 12 minutes from Islam Slimani, Rafik Halliche and Abdelmoumene Djabou.
But Hong Myung-bo’s men rallied after the break, and forced their way back into the tie through Son Heung-min and Koo Ja-cheol in what was a spirited recovery.
So after a breathless 90 minutes in the Estadio Beira-Rio, we take a look at six things that were learned following the Group H clash.
South Korea’s Set Piece Woe Continues
Of all the teams at the 2014 World Cup, only Iran conceded more goals than South Korea from set pieces in qualifying, and that deficiency came back to haunt them on Sunday.
Algeria’s Rafik Halliche took full advantage of some sloppy marking from Abdelmoumene Djabou’s expert corner, putting his side 2-0 up with a bullet header.
Goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong came off his line to punch clear for good measure, but got nowhere the ball. Manager Hong Myung-bo, however, will have been more concerned with his side’s organisation.
The Tageuk Warriors were reeling after Islam Slimani had given the North Africans the lead, but were caught sleeping for their second, with just one minute and 55 seconds between the goals.
Algeria’s Pacy Start Left South Korea Stunned
Algeria clearly felt they deserved more from their opening Group H fixture, and South Korea bore the brunt of their frustration five days later.
An accomplished performance against Belgium ultimately ended in defeat for Vahid Halihodzic’s side, but they were determined not to make the same mistake again.
By half-time, the Desert Foxes had registered 12 shots on goal, scoring with three of them, and in the opening 45 minutes at least, Hong Myung-bo’s men had no answers.
For a team that arrived at the World Cup with a reputation for conceding goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, South Korea were left reeling by Algeria’s rapid-fire start.
Yacine Brahimi Alters the Record Books
Before Sunday’s clash in Porto Alegre, no African team had ever scored four or more goals in a World Cup fixture—but Yacine Brahimi changed all that.
The Granada midfielder—who was a strong contender for Man of the Match—wrote Algeria into the record books with his second-half strike, and poured cold water on South Korea’s comeback in the process.
Son Heung-min’s goal had offered his side a way back into the game in the 50th minute after some clumsy defending from Madjid Bougherra.
But Brahimi’s cool finish following a flowing move put the game beyond the East Asians, and he scribed a new chapter for his country before being replaced with 15 minutes to go.
South Korea’s Early Tactics Played into Algeria’s Hands
As Algeria launched wave after wave of attacks inside the opening period in the Estadio Beira-Rio, South Korea’s insistence on pitching 11 men behind the ball left them vulnerable.
Without an outlet up front, the North Africans were given time to regroup and start again after every clearance, and they got their reward in spectacular fashion.
As boss Hong Myung-bo watched helplessly from the dugout, the Tageuk Warriors looked leaderless and exposed, and there was an air of inevitability about Algeria’s opener.
Though they regrouped admirably after the break, the real damage was done in 12 frantic first-half minutes, and South Korea’s approach meant they only had themselves to blame.
Algeria Beat South Korea at Their Own Game
South Korea’s reputation for playing high-energy, high-impact football is well established, but against Algeria on Sunday, they were simply beaten at their own game.
From the first whistle, the Africans pressed high up the pitch, forced their opponents onto the back foot and were recompensed by a flurry of goals.
They hadn’t won a game at the World Cup for 32 years, and looked like a team desperate to set the record straight with a mixture of pace and determination.
Algeria now need just a point to go beyond the group stages for the first time in their history, and if they start with the same amount of tenacity against Russia on Thursday, few would bet against them.
South Korea Deserve Credit for Their Second-Half Recovery
For all the criticism that came their way at half-time, South Korea regrouped impressively and deserve great credit for taking the game to Algeria despite the scoreline.
Son Heung-min’s goal brought the tie back to life, and an intense period of pressure had Vahid Halihodzic’s men on the back foot for the first time in the game.
Even at 4-1, they refused to lie down and Koo Ja-cheol’s strike 18 minutes from the end meant the result remained respectable when the opposite looked likely at the break.
Had South Korea won a penalty in stoppage time when Son Heung-min was fouled by Carl Medjani, it would have led to a nervy finish, and for that they undoubtedly deserve praise.