Belgium came from behind against an impressive Algeria to secure a 2-1 win in their World Cup opener. After an impotent opening the Red Devils allowed Les Fennecs to take a surprise first-half lead, though a string of second-half substitutions changed the game and enabled Belgium to net twice in the final 20 minutes and open their campaign with a win.
There were no surprises when Belgium took control of the game right from the first whistle, though rather more of a shock was the difficulty the Red Devils had in turning their possession into meaningful goalscoring chances. Their only serious effort goal in the first quarter of the match was a long-range effort from Axel Witsel, which Raïs M'Bohli tipped around the post.
Algeria defended excellently, though didn't offer much going forward. However, all it took was one swift counter for them to take advantage of Belgium's weakness at the back, with makeshift left-back Jan Vertonghen bundling Sofiane Feghouli over in the box midway through the first half. Feghouli stepped up to convert the ensuing spot-kick, and Les Fennecs incredibly found themselves ahead.
They managed to keep their lead to the break, with their disciplined, deep defending proving enough to keep Belgium at bay. The Red Devils did finally manage to break through the Algerian ranks on the stroke of halftime when Eden Hazard threaded Nacer Chadli through on goal, though his shot was tame and comfortably held by M'Bolhi at the near post.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots looked to switch things up with the introduction of the mobile, tricky attacker Dries Mertens at halftime, and the move very almost paid dividends within moments of the restart. Mertens swung a dangerous corner into the Algeria penalty area, only for Witsel's header to narrowly clear the crossbar. However, chances were still few and far between, and Algeria still looked comfortable defending deep.
Wilmots eventually turned from flair to brute force in a bid to try and get back into the game, and it paid off with 20 minutes remaining. A deep cross from Kevin De Bruyne landed perfectly on the sizable hair of substitute Marouane Fellaini, who leaped to head beyond M'Bolhi and level the scores.
Suddenly the momentum of the game had completely shifted, and Belgium looked a lot more threatening going forward. With 10 minutes remaining, they had the lead. A quick Belgium counter-attack culminated in Hazard finding Mertens in space, before the Napoli attacker lashed the ball into the roof of the net. Deflated, Algeria had no response to going behind, and only a sharp save from M'Bolhi prevented Fellaini scoring a third late on.
Belgium: Courtois; Vertonghen, Kompany, van Buyten, Alderweireld; Dembélé (Fellaini 65'), Witsel, Chadli (Mertens 46'); Hazard, Lukaku (Origi 58'), De Bruyne.
Goals: Fellaini (70'), Mertens (80').
Algeria: M'Bolhi; Ghoulam, Halliche, Bougherra, Mostefa; Medjani (Ghilas 84'), Bentaleb, Taïder; Mahrez (Lacen 71'), Soudani (Slimani 66'), Feghouli.
Goals: Feghouli (pen. 24').