Slovenia captain Robert Koren benefited from a gaffe by Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi and his team took charge of Group C with a 1–0 win. The win is the first at a FIFA World Cup finals for the tiny European nation with a population of 2.0 million.
With the result, Slovenia moved into first place ahead of England and USA, who drew 1–1 on Saturday in Rustenburg. Slovenia qualified for the World Cup by beating Russia in a European playoff late last year.
Algeria was reduced to 10 men after striker Abdelkader Ghezzal picked up his second yellow card in 14 minutes in the 73rd minute. Ghezzal stupidly stuck his arm up to control a high pass he had no chance of snagging. And, quite correctly, the referee showed him his second yellow.
Six minutes later, Koren did what he had to do. At the top of the 18-yard box, he found a little bit of space to release a well-placed right-footed shot toward the far side of the net. Chaouchi should save this type of ball 90 percent of the time. As a result, another goalkeeping blunder is the story of Group C after Robert Green’s far worse mistake against the USA yesterday.
The game was played at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. It was attended by just over 30,000, which is about 75 percent full. Former France superstar Zinedine Zidane was in attendance watching over Algeria.
Slovenia faces the United States on Friday in what will be a critical match for the Americans. England faces Algeria later that day.