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Jan Vertonghen's blushes were spared by his Belgium team-mates, but Chelsea trio Ramires, Oscar and Willian failed to help Brazil pick up three points against Mexico

A host of Premier League stars were on display on Monday as Belgium kicked off their World Cup campaign with a victory over Algeria.

A Chelsea playmaker and a Manchester United misfit were heavily involved in the 2-1 win, but the Tottenham contingent did not fare as well.

And with Brazil back in action there were yet more familiar faces on show.

MAROUANE FELLAINI

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He may have endured a difficult season following a big money move to Manchester United, but Marouane Fellaini was the hero off the bench for Belgium against Algeria.

With Belgium trailing, Marc Wilmots brought on the midfielder in place of Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, who struggled to make an impact from deep alongside Axel Witsel.

Fellaini’s introduction altered Belgium’s game plan as he moved into a more advanced position than Dembele had occupied.

And Wilmots was rewarded, with the former Everton man's presence forcing the Algeria defence to retreat into their own penalty area before he headed in a cross from former Chelsea midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

Belgium went on to win the game, with Fellaini playing a vital part in the turnaround. He must surely now be vying for a place in the starting XI.

THIBAUT COURTOIS

Set to finally make his mark at Chelsea after a series of successful loan spells at Atletico Madrid, Thibaut Courtois saw little of the action but was beaten on his World Cup debut with Belgium.

Algeria were awarded a penalty in the first half, which was converted by Sofiane Feghouli, who gave Courtois no chance.

But otherwise, Courtois was rarely called into action, doing little more than collect the ball as Belgium came from behind to win 2-1.

JAN VERTONGHEN

Few Belgians would have been more pleased than Jan Vertonghen to see their side make a comeback against Algeria on Tuesday.

The Tottenham defender conceded a penalty, pulling Feghouli down in the box early on in the first half, in a manner similar to a few other challenges which have been deemed worthy of a spot kick so far in Brazil.

As has been the case with Tottenham on a number of occasions, Vertonghen was deployed at left-back despite a preference for playing at the heart of the defence, due to the presence of Daniel van Buyten and Manchester City man Vincent Kompany.

Belgium captain Kompany, meanwhile, had a solid game alongside Van Buyten at centre-back. Algeria were afforded just three shots on goal and just one on target over the course of the game.

EDEN HAZARD

Plenty is expected of Eden Hazard in Brazil as his emergence as one of the world’s best players continues.

But it looked like the Chelsea man was heading for a quiet afternoon as Belgium struggled to break down Algeria after falling behind to Feghouli’s penalty early on.

The game opened up in the second half however as Wilmots made substitutions, and Hazard would finally leave his mark on the game after Belgium had pulled level.

With the game stretched, the playmaker slid a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Dries Mertens, who slammed the ball into the top corner to ensure Belgium picked up all three points.

ROMELU LUKAKU

Romelu Lukaku looks set to leave Chelsea this summer and is in the proverbial shop window at the World Cup, but his contribution to Belgium’s victory over Algeria was a forgettable one.

Despite being surrounded by the attacking talents including Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, the striker looked isolated up front for Belgium and failed to trouble the Algeria back four.

Lukaku lasted just 58 minutes before being replaced by Divock Origi, who fared much better as Belgium went on to win the game.

Tottenham midfielder Nacer Chadli had a similarly disappointing game and was replaced after the first half by Dries Mertens, who went on to score the winner for Belgium.

NABIL BENTALEB


Nabil Bentaleb could barely have dreamt of playing at the 2014 World Cup at the start of the season, but after working his way into the Tottenham starting line-up under Tim Sherwood, the midfielder, who was born in France, was selected to represent Algeria.

Bentaleb was tidy for Algeria, making more passes (30) than any of his midfield team-mates with 83.3 per cent accuracy, but was yellow carded for an altercation with fellow Spurs man Mousa Dembele, who took an arm to the face from the 19-year-old.

RAMIRES


An injury to Hulk ahead of the second round of Group A matches meant Ramires was handed a start against Mexico on Monday night.

But with the host nation looking to pick up a second win and edge closer towards the knockout stages, the Chelsea midfielder was withdrawn after a first half which featured no goals and few chances of note.

Ramires was rarely involved in the action before the interval, but was yellow carded as half time approached for a foul on Paul Aguilar.

The midfielder was replaced by Shakhtar winger Bernard as Brazil chased the winner.

PAULINHO

Like Ramires, Paulinho struggled to assert himself in midfield against Mexico as Brazil failed to beat Guillermo Ochoa.

The Tottenham midfielder called Ochoa into action once but could not beat the Mexico goalkeeper, who was in superb form throughout.

After an inconsistent season at Spurs and a solid if not eye-catching display against Croatia, the pressure will be on Paulinho to deliver against Cameroon.

OSCAR

Oscar made his mark on the World Cup early on, scoring the crucial third goal in the 3-1 victory over Croatia in the opening game of the tournament.

However, there was no repeat of such goal scoring prowess against Mexico from the Chelsea forward, who formed part of an attacking support line who could not find a way past Ochoa and more than met their match in a staunch Mexico defence.

Oscar was replaced late on by Chelsea team-mate Willian, who moved wide but did not have time to help his side score a winning goal.

JAVIER HERNANDEZ

After being left out of the starting XI for Mexico's victory over Cameroon, Javier Hernandez was again on the substitute's bench for the goalless draw with Brazil.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera started with Oribe Peralta in attack but after 74 goalless minutes the Manchester United striker was given the chance to score a memorable late winner.

Hernandez came close to creating a scoring opportunity for himself after following up a Raul Jimenez volley which was well saved by QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, but was kept at bay as the ball flew past him.

It was a fine save by Julio Cesar, who was called into action late on in the game after a relatively quiet evening.

KI SUNG-YEUNG

Ki Sung-Yeung was the central figure in a South Korea midfield which dominated for long spells against Russia in the final game of the opening round of group matches on Tuesday night.

South Korea were well and truly on top and Ki was heavily involved, testing Igor Akinfeev - who eventually spilled a shot into his own goal - with a long range drive which was also fumbled.

Ki was placed on set piece duty as well, taking his side's free kicks and corners, and was booked for a hefty challenge on Aleksandr Samedov in the first half.

South Korea were in control but after conceding a sloppy equaliser which was finished off by Aleksandr Kerzhakov, they found themselves holding on at times in the latter stages.

Ki, meanwhile, spent last season on loan at Sunderland and helped Gus Poyet's side avoid relegation, but could be given a new lease of life under Garry Monk at Swansea City.

 

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