Hours before South Korea and Russia’s World Cup opener, fellow Group H contender Belgium overcame Algeria 2-1 in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday.
Algeria opened the scoring in the 24th minute. Sofiane Feghouli converted a penalty kick down the center after Belgian Jan Vertonghen received a yellow card for tugging at the midfielder during an attempt on goal.
Algeria played defensively in the second half, giving the Belgians little chance to find an opening.
Belgium's Dries Mertens celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the group H World Cup soccer match between Belgium and Algeria at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (AP-Yonhap)
But after some dramatic attempts by Belgium’s Vertonghen and Divock Origi, Kevin de Bruyne sent a long cross from the left to substitute midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who was waiting onside near the goal to equalize the score with a header in the 70th minute.
Then with 10 minutes left on the clock, midfielders Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens sped through an opening in Algeria’s defense for Mertens to score and secure the win.
The victory gave Belgium the lead in the group standings with three points, as Korea and Russia played to a draw a few hours later in Cuiaba in the final opening group match of the World Cup.
In Group H’s second round, Korea and Algeria face off in Porto Alegre while Belgium and Russia go head to head in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday (Monday morning, Korean time).
By Elaine Ramirez, Korea Herald correspondent (email@example.com