Algeria’s four goals ended a 32-year wait for a World Cup win and shot them into contention for a last 16 place for the first time in four tournaments.
The Beira Rio stadium echoed to the chants of “1-2-3, Vive Algerie” after the final whistle from Algeria’s vociferous green and white clad fans.
Wily coach Vahid Halilhodzic masterminded an impressive performance, making five changes to the side that were unlucky to lose their opening Group H game against Belgium.
“I took into account how Korea played, I wanted some fresh players, players who wanted revenge, who could worry the Korean team and make it difficult for them,” he told a news conference.
“We had to dare but after each match we will get better and better and this victory after 32 years will do a lot for us. We are in high spirits,” he said.
The tremendous match—in which South Korea threatened to make a late comeback after a poor first-half—also fired up a group which until now had been spared the drama and thrills seen elsewhere in Brazil.
The team had played to its strengths, working in depth and counter-attacking, Halilhodzic said.
“We played an almost perfect first period. We were playing very well, very effectively, then it went down a little bit, maybe it was psychological, maybe physical, but this was a feat today.”
He conceded that Algeria sagged somewhat in the second half, allowing Korea to claw back a goal when three down, then a second after Algeria has grabbed a fourth.
“The Koreans were well organised, ready to run. Kim (Young-gwon) caused us problems but we were ready for that. We chose tactics that gave them problems. The fourth goal was a textbook goal. All the Brazilians must have been delighted by that.”
Yacine Brahimi’s 62nd-minute goal also set a record, making Algeria the highest-scoring African side in a single World Cup match. Remarkably, until they scored against Belgium last week, Algeria had not netted a World Cup goal for 28 years.
Algeria’s fate is now in their own hands. A victory over Russia would see them through and a draw might be sufficient, depending on the result between Belgium and South Korea.
“Russia—we’ll see—Russia is the favorite team but we have to fight and we have to be daring and we have to be ready to suffer. It will be complicated, but it is possible.”