Robert Koren’s late goal gave Slovenia victory over 10-man Algeria in their opening World Cup game in Polokwane to send them top of Group C. The Desert Foxes dominated throughout the game but couldn’t find the key to the Slovenian deadlock (1-0).
24 years after their last World Cup game, the Algerians were ready to take on the World as they faced Slovenia in their opening game with a great opportunity to top group C as England and the US couldn’t decide on a winner on Saturday.
It was a rather tentative start by both teams as the midfield remained very compact and players found little space to manœuvre. Slovenia, one of the best defense in the European qualification round, was to play the waiting game. Despite a good start with Portsmouth’s Belhadj’s stunning free kick, Rabah Saâdane’s men could muster the will to beat Handanovic. The Desert Foxes, far too clumsy, relied on their set pieces to break through. Yet, despite a Ziani corner and a Halliche header, the Algerians couldn’t find their way home.
After another attempt by Ghezzal, the Borussia Mönchegladbach forward, was foolishly sent off. Trying to control a long ball, he stuck out an arm deliberately : it was his second booking, leaving Algeria with ten men for the remaining 20 minutes. This was the beginning of the end for Algeria as they lost their composure. Yebda was booked, Belhadj threw his everything into the game but i twas too late. Slovenia captain had already struck, slipping a 20-yard drive through the grasp of Algeria keeper Faouzi Chaouchi, who let the ball squeeze just inside the post.
Both sides came into this game knowing that a win would put them in pole position in the group following England’s 1-1 stalemate with the USA yesterday in Group C. And thank to Koren’s goal, Slovenia register their first win ever in the World Cup before taking on the other surprise of the group, the US.