BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Belgium opened its World Cup campaign with a 2-1 comeback win over Algeria on Tuesday, relying on second-half goals from two substitutes after a tense start in Group H.
Algeria opened the scoring with a penalty in the 25th minute and the surprising lead stood for 45 minutes until Marouane Fellaini’s strong glancing header, with his back to goal, from a Kevin De Bruyne cross.
Fellaini, who many had considered would start the match, had only come onto the pitch five minutes earlier and was coach Marc Wilmots’ final substitution.
Ten minutes later, Dries Mertens’ right-foot strike beat Algeria’s goalkeeper after Eden Hazard saw him free on the right and set him up for the decider. Mertens, who went on at the start of the second half, sent his shot high in the net outside of Rais Mbolhi’s reach.
“We knew it would be tough, that there would be no space,” Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said. “We made one error and we paid for it. The bench made the difference. We showed mental strength and we came back.”
Algeria attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli converted a penalty in the first half after he was dragged down in the area by Belgium left back Jan Vertonghen.
At that point, Algeria was on course to produce another upset of a major team as it did in 1982 when it beat West Germany in its first group match. But the Algerians were tired by the end, having started the game brightly.
Belgium is widely billed as the favorite in Group H, which also includes Russia and South Korea. But Algeria dominated possession in the opening minutes, surging forward and moving the ball with flair. Belgium eventually settled down and regained control, ending the match with 65 percent possession.
Russia, S. Korea draw 1-1
CUIABA, Brazil — Alexander Kerzhakov scored with one of his first touches after coming on as a substitute to earn Russia a 1-1 draw with South Korea on Tuesday in a World Cup match marked by the first big goalkeeping error of the tournament.
Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev spilled Lee Keun-ho’s speculative shot into his own net to gift South Korea a 68th-minute lead at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba in Group H.
But Kerzhakov bailed his teammate out, turning in a shot from close range in the 74th — three minutes after coming on as a substitute — to rescue a point for Russia in a poor-quality match.