CURITIBA, Brazil, June 26 (Xinhua) -- For the first time in 51 years, Algeria has a chance to play the World Cup knockout stage.
With a 1-1 draw with Russia in Curitiba on Thursday, Algeria collected four points in three group matches, enough for them to be listed second after Belgium to reach the last 16.
Despite a header from Russian forward Kokorin in the sixth minute, the "Fennec Foxes" came back through a strong header from Islam Slimani. His second-period goal was enough to send the north African side through to a meeting with Germany.
Slimani was elected as the "Man of the Match".
"Our effort in the past three year finally paid off," said Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
"We deserve the last 16 spot."
Russia had a perfect start. In the sixth minute, Russia's counter-attack saw a wide open Dmitry Kombarov. The defender curled a beautiful pass into the box. Alexander Kokorin received the ball and knocked it down with a powerful header.
Algeria began to fight back after the goal. Both Nabl Bentaleb and Yacine Brahimi got chances which could have leveled the score. Russia slowed down the rhythm, but the attacking Algeria left enough space for the Russian forwards and Kokorin kept trying for more score in the box.
Kokorin found another chance in the 19th minute. Shatov and Samedov managed to break the Algerian defense, and the later crossed the ball into the penalty area. Kokorin head again but the ball went wide.
The Algerians almost equalized in the 29th minute, when Islam Slimani's strong header was rejected by Igor Akinfeev. Slimani challenged Akinfeev again in the 35th minute, but his effort wasn't good enough to beat the 28-year-old goalkeeper.
Algeria controlled the field for the rest of the first half, but neither Slimani's header or Belkalem's kick were able to get past Akinfeev.
Russia's counter-attack remained effective in the second half but Kokorin missed two more chances to beat Mbolhi.
In the 60th minute, Algeria was awarded a free kick. Slimani powered home a towering header at the far post when Akinfeev tried to reach the ball but completely missed it.
The last 20 minutes turned to a half-court attacking mode of Russia. A header from Aleksei Kozlov threatened Mbolhi, but the shot went wide off the right post.
The final whistle saw thunderous applause and cheers from the Algerian fans, and Russia had to head back home with two draws and one loss in Group H.
"We could have scored another goal," said Russian coach Fabio Capello, "but we made too many mistakes."
"That is World Cup, and you will pay for any one of your mistakes."