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Algeria 1 Russia 1: North Africans reach last 16 for first time

Algeria became the final team to progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup following a draw with Russia.

Their celebrations started around half an hour before the end of the match last night as Islam Slimani scored with a header to draw the African side level in Curitiba.

It was a significant moment on a momentous night for Algeria, who will take on Germany in the next phase of the tournament. The result brought an end to Russia's involvement, though, with Fabio Capello's side having collected just two points from Group H. Belgium advance as winners.

Alexander Kokorin had given the Russians an early lead last night, the forward meeting a delectable cross from Dmitry Kombarov to direct a header into the net after only the sixth minute. It was a goal which threatened to break the hearts of the Algerian players, whose head coach Vahid Halilhodzic had described the match as the most important in the country's history.

His side would rally after the break, though, and a draw was the least that they deserved for their efforts. Slimani had one effort tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, while the Russian watched carefully as further the Algerians created further chances to score. Halilhodzic offered some sense of direction from the sidelines - gesticulating furiously whenever his side recovered the ball.

Algeria found their mark after the break. Having looked sharper since returning for the second half, Slimani was able to seize his chance on the hour mark as he rose to meet a free-kick from Yacine Brahimi with a powerful header. Akinfeev could only grasp desperately at the ball as went by him.

Capello had made just one change to the side which lost 1-0 to Belgium, giving a first start of the tournament to experienced striker Alexander Kerzhakov. He replaced Maxim Kanunnikov.

However, Algeria were able to keep their European opponents at bay and denied them the three points. Capello might have recalled a similar moment when his England side were frustrated four years ago. Just like back then, the Algerian fans prayed for the match to end and erupted in celebration at the final whistle.

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