For the first seventy minutes of this match Algeria was the better side. They defended beautifully, not allowing the Belgians to come anywhere near their goal. An early penalty gave the Algerians the lead, only to see Belgium come back with two goals in the last twenty minutes to win it. This by far was not the performance many had expected to see from Belgium, but what matters at the end of the day is the fact that they walk away with three points in the bag. 

On the last day of the opening round of games, the world finally got their first look at the “golden generation” of Belgium. To give you an idea of how good this Belgian squad is, seven out of their eleven starters played a significant role for a premier club last season. On the other side of the ball, Algeria went into the game with nothing to lose, which for oppositions can always be dangerous.

The game got off to rather a slow start as Algeria seemed comfortable letting Belgium hold possession in their own half. The Algerians were very organized on defense, not letting the likes of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku have any breathing room on the ball. Riyad Mahrez had the first half chance of the game on 17’ minutes but his shot from the left side of the box hardly caused keeper Thibaut Courtois any concern. It was Witsel who gave the Belgians their first sight at goal on 20’ minutes, but the strong hands of Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi easily got behind the ball for the save.

Jan Vertonghen was the culprit on 23’ minutes though as he was beaten on the right flank by Sofiane Feghouli consequently pulling him down in the box. Feghouli then calmly walked to the penalty spot and sent Courtois the wrong way to give the Algerians a shock 1-0 lead.

After forty-five minutes there was no sign of the Belgian side many people were expecting. Despite a few chances from about 30 yards out, they barely created any real opportunities. Lukaku was absent up front and the Algerians were well organized in their own half. It was only the second time in Algeria’s World Cup history that they had been leading at halftime.

After the interval, it was Witsel who had the first real chance of the half for the Belgians. He wasn’t able to keep his header down though as he seemed surprised by keeper M’Bohli’s complete whiff on the first corner of the half. Dries Mertens, who was brought on at the half, immediately seemed to be making an impact; giving the Belgians the pace they were missing in the first half of play.

As the half wore on, the Belgians were looking a lot more dangerous, winning multiple free kicks close to the Algerian penalty area. It was against the run of play on 56’ minutes that the Fennec Foxes of Algeria almost got a second goal as a header off a corner went just wide of Cortouis’ post.

It came as somewhat of a surprise in the 57’ when Romelu Lukaku was subbed off in favor of Divock Origi. Lukaku had been off the pace all game and never really seemed like he was able to establish himself. Origi should have brought the Belgians level on 65’ as he was put clear through on goal, only to see his shot stopped by the outstretched leg of M’Bohli.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots looked like a genius after Marouane Fellaini scored (70’) five minutes after he was brought on to bring Belgium level. It was a superb header from about 8 yards out, one that the United midfielder will surely relish after having a horrible season with the Red Devils of Manchester. One has to feel for the Algerians though as they defended superbly up until the goal. But there is no keeper in the world that would have kept that one out, as it skimmed the crossbar and hit the back of the net.

The comeback was complete on 79’ as Dries Mertens completed what was a swift Belgian counter attack. Marc Wilmots again looks like a genius after another one of his substitutes hit the back of the net. It took about seventy minutes, but Belgium finally started to show signs of why they are people’s dark horse. One has to feel for the Algerians though as they for a majority part of the game were the better team.