German grit beats Algerian aggression
GERMANY had to battle all the way into extra time to beat Algeria 2-1 in their last-16 World Cup clash on Monday, crushing the North Africans' dream of revenge and setting up a quarter-final duel against fellow former champions France.
The Germans were pushed hard by an inspired Algeria, before goals from Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil sealed victory in a tense game marked by swift Algerian counter-attacks and a second-half German barrage of the "Desert Foxes" goalmouth.
The North African outsiders, representing the hopes of the Arab world, played with energy and confidence to regularly expose a static German defence, but the European team's power and fitness counted in the end.
With the score 0-0 at full-time, Schuerrle dragged in a low cross from Thomas Mueller. Ozil buried the Algerian dream in the last minute - but, in a final moment of drama, Abdelmoumene Djabou grabbed a consolation goal for the brave Algerians just before the final whistle.
The victory extended Germany's record of reaching at least the quarter-finals in every World Cup they have entered since 1938, and gave them their first win in three attempts against Algeria, who were playing in the last 16 for the first time.
"We would have preferred to have won this differently. The Algerians did a good job, they disrupted us from the start and didn't let us get into our game," Schuerrle told reporters.
The result also denied Algeria, who famously beat West Germany in a 1982 World Cup group game, revenge for the so-called "Disgrace of Gijon".
After that Algerian victory, West Germany secured a narrow win over Austria - in a farcical, half-hearted game in Gijon which saw both of them go through at Algeria's expense - and drew accusations of a stitch-up.
"We had a hard time in the first half and lost a lot of balls. We were the better team in the second half. We had enough chances to have decided it," German coach Joachim Loew said.
"We lost the ball a lot. We practically invited Algeria to run counter-attacks against us."
Germany, with seven Bayern Munich players in the starting line-up, took a long time to get into their stride on a cold, overcast day, with most of the thrills coming from swift Algerian counter-attacks.
The Germans tried to find Mueller - scorer of nine goals in his nine previous World Cup matches - in early probes, but the passes were just too far ahead of him.
Mueller headed wide and a long-range shot from Toni Kroos was batted away by Algeria's keeper, Rais M'Bolhi.
Just two minutes into extra time, substitute Schuerrle finally broke Algerian resistance before the late exchange of goals from Ozil and Djabou.
"OK, we didn't play well in the first half, but the decisive element is that you make it to the next round," Loew said.