- POSTED: 27 Jun 2014 16:34
Loud celebrations erupt in Algiers as the country's national team makes it to the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time.
ALGIERS: Algerians lit off fireworks and cheered wildly as the country's national team made it to the the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time with the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Russia on Thursday.
On a momentous night for the North Africans, who were the last team through to the knockout round, Islam Slimani rose to the occasion and nodded home in the 60th minute to cancel out Alexander Kokorin's sixth-minute header.
Thousands of fans who watched the game on a giant screen in the centre of Algiers clapped and waved national flags.
There was controversy surrounding the Algerian goal, however, with Russian's Italian coach Fabio Capello complaining that goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had been distracted by a laser beam shone from the crowd.
Television images seemed to back up his assertion, with what appeared to be green beams flashing across the keeper's body as he tried to reach the cross.
With Belgium beating South Korea to advance as Group H leaders, Algeria finished runner-ups and face former champions Germany in Porto Alegre on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.
That will be a match with a back story and the potential for revenge, Germany and Austria conspiring in a 'non-aggression pact' at the 1982 World Cup to ensure they went through at Algeria's expense.
In a tense match with everything at stake and 2018 hosts Russia needing a win to go through, the 'Desert Foxes' deserved the draw and might even have snatched a late winner against a Russian side that started brightly but ran out of steam.
It had seemed to be Russia's night when Kokorin met a beautifully-flighted Dmitry Kombarov cross with a perfectly-executed header in the sixth minute.
Algeria, playing what Bosnian-born coach Vahid Halilhodzic had called the most important match in their soccer history, rarely threatened in the first half and looked a shadow of the side who thumped four goals past the Koreans.
Slimani had an effort tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the 30th minute, but the linesman had already flagged for offside, and Algeria's other tame attempts had Halilhodzic gesticulating furiously from the touchline.
The anger turned into a smile worthy of a World Cup winner as Algeria, who joined Nigeria as Africa's two representatives in the second round, battled back in the second half.
Slimani seized his chance in the 60th minute with a powerful header at the near post from a Yacine Brahimi free kick that Akinfeev failed to reach and left Capello seething at the refereeing.