Slovenia won their first ever World Cup match courtesy of a late 1-0 success over 10-man Algeria.
The victory came following yet another goalkeeping blunder after Faouzi Chaouchi let in Robert Koren’s speculative shot from 25 yards.
The game offered little excitement until second-half substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal’s was given his marching orders after picking up two yellow cards in quick succession.
With England being held by USA in Saturday’s group opener Slovenia now lead the way on three points while Algeria are bottom without a point, although on the evidence of this game, the so-called ‘big two’ will have little to fear in their remaining Group C matches.
Little separated the teams in the opening exchanges with Nadir Belhadj’s free-kick just three minutes into the contest the only chance of note for either side. But it was hit straight at keeper Samir Handanovic had little difficulty helping the ball over for a corner.
As the half progressed, Algeria showed fractionally more attacking intent, and went close on two occasions. First, through Rafik Halliche, who headed wide Algeria’s best opportunity from a Karim Ziani corner. Then just before the interval Karim Matmour’s left-foot half-volley flew narrowly over the crossbar.
At the other end Chaouchi had to tip over Birsa’s long-range effort on the stroke of half-time.
Although the quality of open play did not improve after the break, Algeria continued to look dangerous from set-pieces and Samir Handanovic had to be alert to collect Belhadj’s cross.
Rabah Saadane then brought on Ghezzal, who was booked within minutes of his introduction for a needless shirt-pull on Marko Suler. Minutes later, a second yellow card was flourished as Ghezzal blatantly handled the ball, to give Guatemalan referee Carlos Alberto Batres little option but to produce a red card.
The game’s only goal came five minutes after Ghezzal’s dismissal, when Koren’s speculative shot embarrassed Chaouchi who made failed to deal with a harmless shot.
Algeria attempted to push numbers forward late on in search of a last-gasp equaliser, but it was not to be as Slovenia held on for a valuable and historic victory.
Algeria 0-1 Slovenia
Scorer: Koren 79
Red card: Ghezzal 73
Algeria: 16 Chaouchi, 02 Bougherra, 03 Belhadj, 04 Yahia, 05 Halliche, 08 Lacen, 15 Ziani, 19 Yebda, 21 Foued Kadir (Guedioura, 82), 11 Djebbour (Ghezzal, 58), 13 Matmour (Saifi, 80)
Slovenia: 01 Handanovic, 02 Brecko, 04 Suler, 05 Cesar, 13 Jokic, 08 Koren, 17 Kirm, 18 Radosavljevic (Komac, 87), 10 Birsa (Pecnik, 84), 11 Novakovic, 14 Dedic (Ljubijankic, 52).
Referee: Carlos Batres (Guatemala).