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Fellaini comes off the bench to rescue Belgium

AS AS 17/06/2014 Nika Cuenca

‘Les Diables Rouges’ can’t hardly remember the last time they were involved in a World Cup finals and it was another ‘Red Devil’ – one of the Manchester United variety, that helped them resolve their opening encounter in their first appearance in the tournament in 12 years.

After an intelligent start, Algeria had defended a 1-0 lead without problems for almost an hour. But three second half substitutions from Marc Wilmots changed the course of events at the Mineirão stadium, the coach’s Plan B working to perfection.

Earlier, his side had looked static and struggled to advance with Algeria closing down Hazard, Lukaku and Chadli every time they saw the ball. Belgium played with four at the back but without full-backs which gave left them exposed to deep balls over the top. One such move produced the opening goal on 24 minutes - Sofiane Feghouli picked the pocket of Vertonghen and was subsequently brought down. The Valencia player took the kick himself, sending Courtois diving in the opposite direction.

Fellaini celebrates © Proporcionado por AS Fellaini celebrates

Belgium’s sole response came from long range efforts towards the end of the half and while Algeria ceded ground, it was clear that Wilmots needed to make changes.

Immediately after the break, Mertens, Origi and Fellaini were introduced and the Belgians looked a completely different prospect. The Lille forward was denied by M’Bohli in a one-on-one then shortly afterwards De Bruyne’s centre was headed under the bar by Fellaini to level the score. Ten minutes later, Mertens blasted in the winner to put Belgium provisionally top of Group H pending Russia late kick-off meeting with Korea Republic.

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