Algeria lost this game but revealed an excellent group of players who fought a balanced battle with Slovenia, the deadlock being broken by the sending-off of Ghezzal after two acts of irresponsibility saw him receive two entirely avoidable yellow cards. However, do not count Saadane’s men out.
Algeria started off aggressively, gaining a free kick outside the area, delivered by Belhadj, who forced a great save out of Slovenia keeper Handanovic. The game followed the norm for the opening matches in the final stage of a World Cup, both teams being more careful than adventurous, playing as a block and not taking any risks.
Slovenia Captain Koren (FIFA man of the match) saw his dangerous shot blocked on 15’ and on 22’, Algeria keeper Chaochi had to come swiftly off his line to turn Kirm’s free kick behind.
Algeria started to press forward more after the half-hour and the free-kick resulting from Radosavljevic’s foul on Belhadj, after 35’, resulted in a goal-mouth scramble. Algeria’s second corner was cleared, but Algeria kept up the pressure and on 37’, Halliche almost broke the deadlock after setting himself up in a good position in front of goal. Two minutes later, Halliche headed just over, in a great period for Algeria.
On, 39’ another incursion by the excellent Belhadj down the left found Matmour just outside the area but his shot went over. Slovenia, trying to 41 counter the trend, started to build attacks and although a corner on 41’ resulted in nothing, on 42’, Chaochi had to pull off a spectacular save to deny Birsa, who sent a rocket on target from 20 metres. The first half ended with Slovenia piling on the pressure after a balanced 45 minutes of soccer.
The second half saw Matjaz Kek’s side keeping up the pressure: Novakovic was caught offside after 48’ but Algeria came back. On 50’ Djebbour lost control of the ball in front of the goalmouth and on 51’ Ziani tried his luck with a long shot. Kek substituted Dedic, bringing on Ljubijankic on 53’, Algeria replying with a Belhadj free kick which obliged Handanovic to pull off the best save of the afternoon.
Rabah Saadane substituted Djebbour by Ghezzal, who had not been on the pitch for a minute before he was booked for shirt-pulling but on 70’, he flashed his header just over from 7 metres. On 72’ he received his second yellow for handling the ball, and was sent off.
Koren broke the deadlock on 79’, converting a pass from the left and sending a shot which bounced in front of Chaochi. 1-0 for Slovenia.
Saadane reacted by sending on Saifi for Matmour, then Guedioura for Kadir and 10-man Algeria tried to keep up the momentum. Kek took off Birsa, sending on Pecnik, then Komac for Radosavljevic, maintaining the status quo, and the scoreline.
Algeria: Chaochi, Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia, Halliche, Lacen, Djebbour (Ghezzal), Matmour (Saifi), Ziani, Yebda, Kadir (Guedioura)
Slovenia: Handanovic, Breko, Suler, César, Koren, Birsa (Pecnik), Novakovic, Jokic, Dedic (Ljubijankic), Kirm, Radosavljevic (Komac)
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