Algeria outlasted Russia to join Belgium in the last 16 from Group H as the final teams for the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2014 were confirmed.
Belgium had already qualified to the pre-quarterfinals after two wins from their first two matches; however, they still needed to assure top place in Group H and with it avoid a clash with the mighty Germany, and they did just that with a 1-0 victory over South Korea, despite going down to ten men in the first half.
Steven Defour was sent off for Belgium, who made plenty of changes to their side, resting the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, for a poor challenge on Kim Shin-wook but South Korea failed to find the breakthrough.
It was Belgium, who have shown a penchant for scoring late goals in this World Cup, who found the only goal of the game, with Jan Vertonghen finding the net after the rebound from an initial shot from Divock Origi fell kindly to him in the 78th minute.
"Yet again our patient approach paid off," Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said. "I knew that the Koreans would leave us with a lot of space to play with. My young team had a tendency to push forwards too much at times, so I tried to get them to relax a little.
"It's no easy task to finish the group stage with nine points. It's a truly historic achievement for Belgium, and I'd like to congratulate the staff and all the players. We're here to win, not to play beautiful football, and we've accomplished our mission."
South Korea, like Russia, needed a win to have any chance of qualifying, and their lack of forward prowess eventually resulted in their elimination. Russia have also struggled to score goals in this tournament, but they took an early lead against Algeria via Alexander Kokorin.
The striker was on hand to head home Dmitri Kombarov's cross from the left to give Russia the lead in just the sixth minute of the game. However, Algeria fought back with the equaliser on the hour as Islan Slimani scored off a Yacine Brahimi freekick.
Try as they might, Russia just could not find the winner, leaving the Algerians to celebrate their first ever appearance in the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup.
"I am very proud, we played a heroic match and we deserved to qualify," Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "We're very, very proud. We've progressed so much over the past three years and this is a real gift for us.
"We've received support from all over the Arabic world – and that has been wonderful. The people here in Brazil also appreciate our sincerity and enthusiasm and I'm proud of that. But more than that, I'm proud of the way the team has played."
Russia would have liked to have done a lot better at this World Cup considering they will be hosting the next edition in 2018. However, coach Fabio Capello admitted his side had been undone by quality opposition.
"In my career, I've never seen a World Cup at this level," he said. "The quality is absolutely incredible, the pace is so intense. This is a great tournament. If you make the slightest mistake, you pay for it.
"We made minor mistakes which we've paid for. I never look for excuses, I accept defeat. At this World Cup, I was playing for the present – not for 2018. We could have won it, but we conceded. I thought we played well, the Algeria goalkeeper saved well on a few occasions. This Algerian squad is an excellent team, they have power and quality. They deserve respect -- but I've said that ever since the draw was made."