In the second Group D matchup of the day, Argentina defeated Algeria 2-1 in Rio at the Olympic Stadium.
After a few half-chances by Algeria in the opening minutes of the match, Argentina would have the first real opportunity. In the 10th minute, Angel Correa, arguably Argentina’s best player, quickly uncorked a shot from just outside the penalty area that went inches wide of the post.
After struggling in the first half of its first match vs. Honduras, Algeria, for the most part, looked lively in the first half. The Africans attacked with vigor when any opportunity presented itself and it was clear that they had the ability to produce chances when they ventured forward.
Correa would have his second decent strike on goal when he fired a blast in the 30th minute that had to be parried aside by Algerian goalie Farid Chaad.
Both teams would continue to apply pressure on each other for the remainder of the first half, but they both didn’t create many quality scoring chances. Opportunities were few and far between but Algeria did have one golden chance in the 43rd minute. Algeria forward Baghdad Bounejdah ran onto a long ball played over the Argentina backline by midfielder Mohammend Benkhemessa. Bounejdah raced in on goal and attempted to lob the ball over Argentina goalie Geronimo Rulli but his attempt was thwarted by Rulli’s outstretched arm.
No more than a minute later, Argentina defender Victor Cuesta, who was cautioned earlier on in the match, received his second yellow and was subsequently shown a red card after fouling Bounejdah outside the penalty area.Argentina was down to 10-men. The ensuing free kick was easily saved by Rulli and, at halftime, it was a 0-0 stalemate.
Right out of the second half gate, the stalemate was no more. Argentina forward Jonathan Calleri outjumped his opponent and directed a header towards the Algerian goal and into the penalty area. Correa reacted the quickest, ran onto the ball and calmly finished past Chaal with his left foot to give his country the 1-0 lead. Algeria was slightly the better team in the first half but they found themselves in a hole immediately at the start of the second half against 10-man Argentina.
However, after sustaining pressure on Argentina, Algeria broke through in the 64th minute. From just outside the penalty area, midfielder Haris Belkebla slipped a nifty pass into the box to midfielder Sofiane Bendebka who then slotted the ball past Rulli to even the match up at 1-1.
While Argentina’s lead didn’t last that long, the numerical disadvantage it had on the field ended as well. Algerian defender Ayoub Abdellaoui was sent off in the 67th minute due to a high boot (“dangerous play”) foul after picking up his second yellow card of the match. Both teams were then playing with 10-men.
But minutes after the Algerian red card, Argentina would retake the lead 2-1 in the 70th minute. Correa and Calleri linked up for a nice interchange at the edge of the penalty area which resulted in Calleri attempting to dribble around Chaal in order to finish. However, Chaal made contact with the ball which then richocheted off Calleri and into the net for the score.
Throughout the remainder of the second half, Algeria kept after Argentina in search of a tying goal. Argentina had quite a few opportunities on the counter-attack and came close to icing the game in the 85th minute. Cristian Pavon ripped a shot off the post after being played in on goal with the entire Algerian team caught up the field.
In the final five minutes, Algeria tried to muster the tying goal but the now Group D cellardwellars ran out of time. The match in Rio ended 2-1 in favor of the South Americans.
After today’s Group D action, Portugal is in first place with six points and +3 goal differential, while Honduras is in second place with three points and a zero goal differential. Argentina is in third place with three points and a -1 goal differential, while Algeria is in last place with no points and a -2 goal differential.
Argentina wraps up group stage play vs. Honduras on Wednesday, August 10th at 12pm, while Algeria squares off vs. Portugal in Belo Horizonte at the same time.