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World Cup

Last-minute rescue for Portugal, Belgium progress, Algeria fire four

The US very nearly booted Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo out of Group G, only to concede a stoppage-time equalizer. Belgium punched their ticket to the knockout phases on Sunday, while Algeria smashed South Korea 4-2.

Portugal went into the US match needing a result to stay alive following their thrashing at the hands of Germany, while a win would have booked the US a spot in the next round. Portuguese winger Nani capitalized on an early error in defense from Geoff Campbell to put his side into the lead.

Despite a frenetic first half in the heat and humidity of Manaus, no further goals fell before the break. US keeper Tim Howard had a pair of hands in this, keeping Cristiano Ronaldo and friends at bay on several occasions.

One of the US' German-born Bundesliga old boys, Jermaine Jones, tied the score mid-way through the second period with a curling shot from outside the area. After 81 minutes, key attacker Clint Dempsey added another from close range, thanks to the unselfish Graham Zusi electing to play the extra pass.

Dempsey got a huge hug from US coach Jürgen Klinsmann as he hobbled off the pitch, exhausted, with a few minutes left to play.

Defeat would have eliminated the Portuguese, but Ronaldo found an answer in stoppage time after spurning several earlier chances. This time though he turned provider, delivering a pinpoint cross from the right to pick out the only Portugal player in the box, substitute Silvestre Varela. Ronaldo's fellow winger headed past Howard in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time to rescue Portugal.

Germany and the US both have four points, and play each other on Thursday. Portugal and Ghana will face each other with one point apiece, which means the pair are still not mathematically out of contention in Group G.

South Korea caught cold

Algeria came out of the blocks with purpose against South Korea, firing off more shots in the first 20 minutes than they had managed all game in their defeat to Belgium. None of these found the net, but the lead wasn't long in coming.

Islam Slimani scored the first on 26 minutes, picking up on a long ball over the top and forcing his way between both Korean center-backs. Just two minutes later, Rafik Halliche doubled Algeria's money with a crunching header from a corner. Korea's keeper Jung Sungryong had come for the cross but missed it, while his static defense offered little assistance.

Four for an African team, two from the Bundesliga

Abdelmoumene Djabou, who had delivered the corner, added a third and put the match to bed well before half time. Bayer Leverkusen's Son Heung-min's well-taken goal just after the break only ever felt like an early consolation.

WM 2014 Gruppe H 2. Spieltag Südkorea - Algerien

Algeria started as they meant to go on, ultimately making African World Cup history

Algeria made history, becoming the first African team to score four in a World Cup game, in the 62nd minute. Sofiane Feghouli combined splendidly with Yacine Brahimi and the Lille attacker finished calmly from close range.

Soon after, Korea's captain Koo Ja-cheol became the 13th Bundesliga goal-scorer in Brazil pulling one back for his well-beaten team. The Mainz midfielder's goal never really sparked a serious South Korean comeback, save for a late penalty appeal from Son waved away by the referee.

Belgium labor past Russia

Belgium left it very late against Russia earlier on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, deciding the game with just five minutes remaining. Substitute Divock Origi hit the winner from a sterling Eden Hazard assist after a relatively uninspiring showing from the Red Devils.

Late in the first half, Russia wanted a penalty for a foul on Maksim Kanunnikov, but striker Alexander Kokorin should have made that irrelevant just before the break. Unmarked in front of goal, he put his header wide.

Late flood in front of Akinfeev's goal

In the second half, both sides struggled in the unrelenting sun and chances were at even more of a premium. Hazard, once again quiet for much of the match, fired off target after a particularly bright scene in the final 10 minutes. Substitute Kevin Mirallas also hit the post for the Red Devils from a free kick. These late chances should have served as a warning to Capello's Russia.

WM 2014 Gruppe H 2. Spieltag Russland - Belgien Tor

Akinfeev had no chance against Origi's driven shot

Belgium broke away in transition in the 86th minute, with Russia straining to get back in position. Hazard beat his man down the left wing and offered up a sharp cut-back from the by-line for Origi. The Lille attacker, whose father Mike represented Kenya, blasted the ball into the roof of Igor Akinfeev's net.

Akinfeev, seeking to put his blunder against South Korea behind him, prevented a flattering final score of 2-0 in stoppage time. The CSKA Moscow keeper got down sharply, denying Mirallas from close range, but his save had no impact on the result.

Belgium will progress from Group H courtesy of the 1-0 win with six points from two games. Algeria, South Korea and Russia could all progress, depending on the results of Thursday night's Group H fixtures, when the Koreans face Belgium and Algeria tackle Russia.