Updated: Friday, 27 June 2014 07:07 | By Agence France-Presse

Laser beam controversy overshadows Algeria qualification

Algeria progressed to the last 16 of the World Cup for the first time in their history with a 1-1 draw against Russia on Thursday, but controversy surrounded Islam Slimani's equaliser as Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev appeared to have been distracted by a laser pen.


Laser beam controversy overshadows Algeria qualification

Algeria's forward Islam Slimani (R) heads the ball to score a goal past Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev during the Group H football match between Algeria and Russia at The Baixada Arena in Curitiba on June 26, 2014 - by Pedro Ugarte

Russia boss Fabio Capello said there was no doubt Akinfeev had been distracted by the laser beam.

"He was blinded by the laser beam. There are pictures and you can see that in the footage," said the Italian, who for a second successive time has failed to translate his success as a club coach onto the World Cup stage.

"About the lasers it is not an excuse. The goalkeeper was unable to do his job. The laser beam was in his face."

Algeria boss Vahid Halilhodzic said he has not seen the laser beam incident, but is relishing the chance for the Desert Foxes to avenge their controversial exit from the 1982 World Cup when they face Germany in Porto Alegre on Monday.

Back then West Germany and Austria played out a mutually beneficial 1-0 win for the Germans to ensure Algeria were eliminated on goal difference.

"We have not forgotten about it. Everyone talks about Algeria and Germany from 1982," said Halilhodzic.

"Thirty-two years ia a long time, but I am very proud of what we have achieved tonight and we deserve to be here.

"Algeria played a heroic match and our qualification for the second round is perfectly deserved."

Belgium topped the group with a maximum nine points from three games after they beat South Korea 1-0 in the other game.

Algeria had gotten off to the worst possible start as with Sofiane Feghouli off the field receiving treatment for a head injury, Russia used the extra space afforded to them down Algeria's right to open the scoring.

Left-back Dmitry Kombarov sauntered forward and his cross was expertly nodded into the top corner by Alexander Kokorin.

Oleg Shatov then came within inches of doubling Russia's advantage with a dipping shot from range that flew just past the post.

However, Algeria posed the greater threat towards the end of the half and Akinfeev went some way to redeeming himself for an awful error which cost his side a goal in their opening game against South Korea with a fine save from Slimani's first effort of the evening.

Russia came flying out of the traps in the second period, though, looking to kill the game off and should have done when a lovely one-two between Kokorin and Aleksandr Samedov put the latter clean through on goal, but Rais Mbolhi stood up well to block his effort.

And that save was to prove vital on the hour mark as Akinfeev flapped at Brahimi's free-kick and Slimani headed home into an unguarded net.

Mbolhi was forced into another fine save 21 minutes from time as Samedov played in Alexander Kerzhakov down the right and his low strike was held at the second attempt by the Algerian goalkeeper.

Russia continued to push for a winner, but when Aleksei Kozlov's header sailed wide in stoppage time their last chance was gone.

Defeat means Russia have still yet to qualify for the last 16 since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and continues Capello's poor record at the World Cup after he oversaw England's 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany in the last 16 four years ago.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn