Fellaini and Mertens engineer turnaround

Substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens prevented Belgium’s much-hyped World Cup campaign falling flat as they came from behind to beat Algeria.

Belgium, seen by many as genuine contenders in Brazil, were losing to Sofiane Feghouli’s first-half penalty until coach Marc Wilmots made all three substitutions by the 65th minute.

First Fellaini levelled with a towering header 20 minutes from time then Mertens, sent on at the interval, rifled home Eden Hazard’s 80th-minute pass.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Kevin de Bruyne played a key role in both goals having struggled as much as anyone in the first period.

Belgium were ponderous throughout the first half, despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession.

Algeria won a penalty with their first serious foray. Nabil Bentaleb started things by releasing Faouzi Ghoulam on the left and his whipped cross from the left was heading for Feghouli.

The striker might not have reached it but Jan Vertonghen rendered that academic when he made a mess of his tracking run and felled his man. Feghouli eyed Thibault Courtois all the way as he rolled his shot home.

Belgium attempted to respond but were drawing blanks.

But then Fellaini rose to head De Bruyne’s curling cross in off the underside of the bar.

Wilmots’s changes continued to reap benefits when Mertens put his side ahead 10 minutes later.

Hazard drew the defence before finding Mertens who rifled home.