Belgium beats South Korea 1-0, wins Group H

Jun. 26, 2014 @ 06:59 PM

Defender Jan Vertonghen scored from a rebound in the 78th minute to give 10-man Belgium a 1-0 victory over South Korea on Thursday to clinch top spot in Group H at the World Cup.

It was Belgium's third straight victory of the group stage and set up a meeting with the Unites States in the round of 16,

South Korea was eliminated with the loss — joining the other three Asian nations at the tournament.

Vertonghen was a stand-in captain for injured star Vincent Kompany. He knocked in the winner after South Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu had saved a shot from Divock Origi.

Belgium was reduced to 10 men just before the break when Steven Defour was sent off for a two-footed challenge, but South Korea couldn't capitalize.

Algeria advances for first time

CURITIBA, Brazil — Algeria has qualified for the World Cup knockout stages for the first time, with Islam Slimani's headed equalizer giving his team a 1-1 draw against Russia on Thursday and enough competition points to reach the second round.

Algeria placed second in Group H behind Belgium with four points, meaning it will meet Germany in the Round of 16.

The victory prompted mass celebrations on the pitch among the players, and had coach Vahid Halilhodzic shaking his head with disbelief.

Russia, needing a win to advance, went on the attack from the start and dominated the first half with its intricate and swift passing movements through midfield. The Russians took the lead as early as the 6th minute when Alexander Kokorin powerfully headed in a left-foot cross from Dmitry Kombarov.

Slimani's 60th-minute equalizer came after Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev failed to catch a swinging left-foot free kick from Yacine Brahimi. That was the second costly error that Akinfeev has made in the tournament for Russia. However, there were indications on the TV broadcast that a green laser was being shone toward the goalkeeper's face just before the free kick was taken.

Brahimi had troubled the Russia defense consistently until his substitution late in the game. Along with midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, he helped neutralize much of Russia's attacking intent through the second half.

Before Algeria's equalizer, Russia had chances to double its lead, notably in the 26th minute when Oleg Shatov weaved through the Algeria midfield but his right-foot shot drifted wide of the Algeria post.

Russia hasn't qualified for the second round of the World Cup since 1986 when it played under the umbrella of the Soviet Union.

Algeria came closest to qualifying for the second stage at the World Cup in 1982, but West Germany and Austria played out a result that suited both of those teams. The European teams, meeting a day after Algeria had won its last group game, knew that a 1-0 win for West Germany would put both through to the second round at Algeria's expense. It remains one of the most contentious group games in the tournament's history.

Ronaldo earns Portugal 2-1 win vs Ghana, both out

BRASILIA, Brazil — Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his mark at the World Cup — but it came too late to spare Portugal an early exit from Brazil.

The world player of the year broke his scoring drought at the tournament with an 80th-minute winner in Portugal's 2-1 victory over Ghana on Thursday.

That result, however, left the Portuguese level on four points with United States in Group G but with an inferior goal difference to the second-place Americans, who lost 1-0 to Germany in Recife. Ghana also was eliminated, finishing bottom of the group.

"We knew we had to score three goals and were depending on the result of the Germany game and we couldn't do that," Ronaldo said after his most lively performance of the tournament.

"We deserved more, but that's football. We are leaving with our heads held high."

Ronaldo barely celebrated after slamming home his goal with his left foot, giving Portugal its first win after a 4-0 loss to Germany and 2-2 draw with the U.S.