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Mixed fortunes

Winning start for Daniel, draw for Dante

Daniel van Buyten completed a full 90 minutes at the World Cup on Tuesday as Belgium hit their stride in the last half-hour to come from behind and beat Algeria 2-1, but there was disappointment later in the evening for unused sub Dante as hosts Brazil were held to a goalless draw by Mexico.

Bayern centre-back Van Buyten filled his normal position in Belo Horizonte for the hotly-tipped Red Devils, but Marc Wilmots’ team struggled against their disciplined African opponents in the first half. Sofiane Feghouli handed Algeria a 25th minute lead from the spot, but substitutes Marouane Fellaini (70) and Dries Mertens (80) saved the Belgians’ blushes.

“We're delighted we've won the first match," a relieved Van Buyten said after a solid display at the heart of his team's defence. Conceding the first-half goal was a big setback for the Europeans. “Obviously the penalty was a stupid goal to give away, but we stayed positive," Daniel remarked.

Wilmots ultimately made two game-winning substitutions by bringing on Mertens at half-time and Fellaini on the hour, energising the Belgian attack. “We have plenty of options from the bench," commented Van Buyten. The turnaround victory means the Red Devils are well-placed to make the last sixteen, and can take a giant stride towards the knockout stages with a victory over Russia on Sunday.

Hosts frustrated

Later in the evening the Brazilians dropped points in an entertaining encounter with Mexico. Bayern man Dante watched the action in Fortaleza from the bench. “0-0 isn't a good result," admitted Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, although he agreed he had seen a “good game.” The five-time world champions played out an end-to-end encounter with the fearless Mexicans, who had fewer clear-cut chances but still threatened a shock upset in the second half. The home side pushed hard for a late winner but captain Thiago Silva missed the best chance four minutes from time.

Brazil lead the Group A standings on goal difference from the Mexicans as both have four points from two matches. Croatia and Cameroon will be looking to get off the mark when they meet on Wednesday night. Regardless of the result in that match, the hosts can book their spot in the last sixteen should they beat Cameroon next Monday.