Monday, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Germany defeated Algeria, after extra time, by a score of 2-1, in one of the more entertaining games of the World Cup. The goals, by Andre Schurrle at the 92nd, Mesut Ozil at the 119th, and Abdelmoumene Djabou at the 120th, were a poor reflection of the number of chances each side missed or Rais M’Bolhi saved in a career performance.
In a very entertaining first half the Algerian team took control of play and produced what should have become at least two goals. This, on top of a great diving header score that was called back, correctly, for off sides. Their dominance continued until about the 25th minute when Germany seemed to wake up and produce a series of chances that required great saves from M’Bolhi. The closest the Germans got in the first half was a point blank shot from Mario Gotze who blasted from close in off a rebound from a previous M’Bolhi save.
The second half continued with a bit more German presence as they began to exert themselves and the Algerians seemed to fall back into a defensive shell. But neither side, despite another slew of chances each, was able to breach the other’s defense and score.
As extra time loomed there were still chances and the added five minutes, though perhaps excessive, certainly allowed the Germans, who had the momentum, ample opportunity to try to snatch another victory by a big team at the expense of a smaller one playing as a near equal. But the game ended 0-0 in regulation with Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic arguing with referee Sandra Meira Ricci about the number of calls that went against his team and stopped Algeria’s momentum or extended a German attack by several plays.
The extra time was just as much a back and forth contest as the prior 90 minutes with the difference that players’ legs were giving out and exhaustion was bound to have more to say about the outcome than what skill could be squeezed out of those cramping legs.
At the second minute of extra time (92’) a cross found Schurrle cutting into the box and colliding with an opponent. The German and Algerian seemed to bounce off each other and the ball ricochetted off of the melee into the net past the outstretched hands of the diving M’Bolhi. Germany 1, Algeria O.
In the second half of extra time another goalmouth melee led to Ozil thundering a previous miss and clearance into the roof of the net just past M’Bolhi’s grasp and past two Algerian defenders trying to block the goal mouth. It was the 119th minute and Germany was heading to the quarterfinals. But the game would not have been complete without an Algerian score, they had played too well and worked too hard.
So in the 120th (plus 50 seconds, of the 2 added minutes of stoppage time), Sofiane Feghouli sent a long cross from right to left and found Djabou rushing in at the far post and volleying the ball past a helpless Manuel Neuer. Germany 2, Algeria 1. About a minute later the match ended and France had its opponent for the July 4th quarterfinals match in Rio de Janeiro.
France vs. Nigeria
Earlier today, France beat Nigeria 2-0 in Brasilia, in what was an even back and forth battle until French coach, Didier Deschamps, brought in La Liga and Real Sociedad star Antoine Griezmann at the 62nd minute of a seemingly settled 0-0 draw. The fleet striker ignited the European’s offense and his efforts bore fruit as he became the link needed between midfield creators Paul Pogba and Mathieu Balbuena, to move the French into more effective and sustained attacks.
At the 79th minute a corner for France resulted in a poor clearance by Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and Pogba headed into an undefended goal for the game’s first score. Eleven minutes later a brilliant Balbuena short corner, played with Karim Benzema, saw the diminutive midfielder dash into the box and cross a hard, low pass to the cutting Griezmann. The striker was met by Enyeama and defender Joseph Yobo and all three collided with Yobo having the ball strike him on the way in for France’s second score.
This was another match that featured an expected winner playing an underdog that kept the game on an even plane until that one break that defined the difference. With France winning in regular time and Germany needing extra time, the French might just have a chance against the stronger German side.