Germany were pushed all the way by an inspired Algeria on Monday before Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil secured them a 2-1 extra-time victory to send them into a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final meeting with France.
The North African outsiders played with energy and confidence to regularly expose a static German defence but in the end the European team’s power and fitness counted.
With the score 0-0 at full-time, substitute Schuerrle flicked 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.
“We showed the whole world that Algeria has a great team Now people around the world will have seen our qualities,” defender Madjid Bougherra told German television.
The victory extended Germany’s remarkable 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 said.
“But it doesn’t matter how we won, the important thing is that we’re in the quarter-finals now against France.”
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 the Algerian victory, West Germany secured a narrow win over Austria in a farcical, half-hearted game which saw both of them go through at Algeria’s expense.
That history weighed heavy on Monday’s clash in Porto Alegre, with Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic saying it would motivate the “Desert Foxes”. For the first half at least, it looked like they might have that revenge.
LACK OF INSPIRATION
Germany, playing in all-white, took a long time getting into their stride at the Beira Rio stadium and seemed to lack inspiration, 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 as he ran goal-wards.
Algeria, in an all-green strip, showed just what a threat they posed early on when Islam Slimani broke down the left and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer charged out of the box to cut him off. A few minutes later Sofiane Feghouli cut in nicely from the right but his shot went astray. Slimani hit the net with a diving header from a cross in the 16th minute but was ruled offside.
Algeria always looked dangerous with Faouzi Ghoulam and El Arabi Soudani coming the left-flank. But Germany began to look more purposeful and Ozil had a couple of shots from the left of the box parried by goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi.
Mbolhi began to get busier – Mueller headed wide then a long-range shot from Toni Kroos was batted away by the Algerian goalie only for Mario Goetze to hit the rebound back at him.
In the second half, Germany began to gain ascendancy. Minutes in, Shkodran Mustafi leapt to a cross but Mbolhi stopped the header. A driving shot by captain Philipp Lahm from outside the penalty area was tipped away for a corner.
The Algerians, never ones to shrink from tackles, began to spend more time packing the defence as the Germans pushed up in waves. Their counterattack still managed to find holes in the German defence to keep hopes of an upset alive but the shots and headers were coming in thick and fast at the other end.
It looked all over for Algeria when Mueller, by now getting the better of his marker, rose to head at goal from a few meters out but the magnificent Mbolhi again saved. Moments later, Mueller shot just wide.
And so to extra-time. But just two minutes in, second-half substitute Schuerrle finally broke Algerian resistance before the late exchange of goals from Ozil and Djabou.
With Nigeria’s loss to France in Monday’s other match, all the African teams are now out of the tournament.