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Goalkeeper shines for Algeria in World Cup loss

Jul 01,2014 - Last updated at Jul 01,2014

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — A bullet from Bastian Schweinsteiger.

A prodigious effort from Philipp Lahm.

An on-target header from Thomas Mueller.

Algeria's unsung goalkeeper stopped everything that came his way for 91 minutes. And even when three-time champion Germany finally scored in extra time and went on to win 2-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, Rais M'Bolhi was not at fault.

That was why Rais — which means leader in Arabic — was voted man of the match on Monday.

"We were ready," said M’Bolhi, who plays for Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia. "No one believed we would reach this stage."

It was the first time Algeria had reached the knockout phase after three previous appearances at the World Cup.

"We've entered the history of Algerian football," M’Bolhi said.

M’Bolhi, it should be remembered, had shined before at the World Cup.

Four years ago in South Africa, he kept a clean sheet during a 0-0 draw with England and conceded only one goal in two matches played — a stoppage-time score from Landon Donovan in a 1-0 loss to the United States.

Against Germany, M’Bolhi kept Algeria alive with save after save until the Germans finally broke through the northern African squad's weary defenders.

Fourteen minutes in, M’Bolhi stopped a blistering long-range effort from Schweinsteiger. In the 55th, Lahm unleashed a hard shot that an outstretched M’Bolhi pushed wide with his fingertips.

And in the 80th minute, M’Bolhi blocked a close-range header from Mueller, who had scored nine goals in his opening nine World Cup matches.

In all, M’Bolhi faced 22 shots, 16 of them on target.

"I'm not quite sure what we lacked," M’Bolhi said. "Eventually we conceded two goals. I don't know. We felt there was something to be done even though we were playing a great team like Germany."

If needed, Manuel Neuer can be a sweeper.

Often abandoned by his blundering defence, the Germany goalkeeper had to turn to unorthodox methods to save Germany from a stunning defeat against underdog Algeria at the World Cup.

Neuer was beaten once but Algeria's goal came as extra time ran out, too late to threaten Monday's 2-1 victory that sent the Germans to the World Cup quarter-finals for the ninth straight time.

"In the regular 90 minutes, we kept a blank sheet," Neuer said.

Only just, and only thanks to Neuer.

The Bayern Munich keeper made some fine saves on the line but his rushes far out of the penalty area, clearing the ball with his feet and even his head, had the fans on the edge of their seats.

His risky exits, however, are nothing new.

"I haven't changed my style," Neuer said. "I often play like that in Bayern or the national team."

He hasn't always been successful, but against Algeria he made no wrong move.

"Manuel was excellent, especially how he dealt with those long balls that were deep and dangerous," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "He cleared them all at the last second and that's his great contribution today."

Germany fans must have momentarily stopped breathing when Neuer ran out of the box to take over as the right back and foil Algeria's most dangerous forward, Islam Slimani, in the ninth minute.

In the 28th minute, Neuer rushed out to clear before Sofiane Feghouli got to the ball. And in the 71st, he raced out to head away a dangerous ball in front of Slimani.

Then there was a stunning save against Feghouli in the 89th minute that could have been Algeria's ticket to the quarter-finals.

But not with Neuer in, or even out, of goal.

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