April 26, 2018
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Germany, France advance to quarterfinal showdown at World Cup

By Angus MacSwan, Reuters

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Germany were pushed all the way by an inspired Algeria on Monday before Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil secured Germany a 2-1 overtime victory to send it to a World Cup quarterfinal showdown with France.

The North African outsiders played with energy and confidence to regularly expose a static German defense 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 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 quarterfinals in every World Cup it has entered since 1938 and gave Germany its first win in three attempts against Algeria, which was 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 quarterfinals now against France.”

The result also denied Algeria, which 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 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.

Germany, playing in all-white, took a long time getting into its 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 it 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 the advantage. 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 began to spend more time packing the defense as the Germans pushed up in waves. Their counterattack still managed to find holes in the German defense 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.

France 2, Nigeria 0

BRASILIA — France ended Nigeria’s hopes of a first World Cup quarterfinal appearance when it grabbed two late goals to win a rough, controversial second-round match 2-0 on Monday, leaving the Super Eagles bitter about the refereeing.

The African champions had the better of the first hour in a controversial, stop-start match before France turned the tables and won with a Paul Pogba header in the 79th minute and an own goal from Joseph Yobo in stoppage time.

France finally found a way past Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama who had kept France at bay with some outstanding saves.

The game swung France’s way after Nigeria’s key midfielder Ogenyi Onazi was injured and carried off following a late studs-up tackle by Blaise Matuidi, who was lucky to escape with a yellow card from United States referee Mark Geiger.

Matuidi raised his hands in apology for the challenge in the 55th minute which appeared to be clumsy, rather than malicious, and Onazi was carried off on a stretcher.

Geiger was also lenient in some other decisions, including failing to punish Matuidi for barging over an opponent shortly after his yellow card.

“I am not happy with the officiating,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told a news conference. “On two occasions Onazi had very bad tackles. He’s out now probably for weeks.

“This is the first time in my life I speak about the referee but it wasn’t good.

“If you look at the goal that we scored I don’t think there was any infringement,” he added. “I would love to know the reason why the referee disallowed the goal.”


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