irst-time qualifier Algeria downed mighty West Germany, 2-1, in Gijon today in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup soccer history.
In other matches, England defeated France, 3-1, in Bilbao and Spain escaped an upset by tying Honduras, 1-1, at Valencia.
The West Germans, two-time Cup champions and favorites with Brazil in this year's 24-nation tournament, were expected to open their Group 2 campaign with a convincing victory.
But the Algerians rewrote the scenario with a victory that surpassed North Korea's 1-0 upset of Italy in 1966 and the United States' 1-0 defeat of England in 1950. Although highly rated, neither Italy nor England were regarded as title favorites when they lost.
West German Coach Jupp Derwall, visibly shocked, shook his head in disbelief when it was over and said, "I still can't believe it. It is beyond my understanding."
Rabah Madjer rocked the European champions with a 52nd-minute goal, but Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tied the score in the 67th minute.
The Algerians could have been expected to fold at this point, but Lakhtar Belloumi scored the winning goal one minute later.
West Germany, the titleholder in 1954 and 1974, now must win against Austria and Chile to stand a chance of being one of the two teams from its group to qualify for the second round.
"We still have three days to think it over," Derwall said. "The main thing now is for us not to lose our heads. All of our players know that they will have to play much better in the next two matches. They also know that they can do it, so there is no reason for us to be desperate."
Algerian Manager Rachid Mekloufi said, "This is the greatest day in the history of Algerian soccer. I still remember the two goals I scored when we defeated Germany in 1964 on our home ground . . . however, the victory today was much more important."
Added Coach Mahiedine Khalem: "I think this victory certainly boosted our confidence . . . I think we are in a very good position to qualify for the next round."
"I am dedicating my goal for the 20th anniversary of our country, which is today," said Belloumi.
England cleared its first hurdle in Group 4 with its victory over France, Bryan Robson getting two goals. He scored his first inside one minute, and Paul Mariner clinched the triumph in the 82nd minute. Gerard Soler scored for France.
But England's success was marred by more trouble from its fans. Seven supporters missed the game, sitting it out in a Bilbao jail charged with disturbing the peace. Others started a fight in the stands and Spanish riot police had to restore order.
Honduras appeared to be heading for a surprise victory over Spain until the host nation rallied to tie the Group 5 match on a questionable penalty kick that smacked of a hometown decision by Argentinian referee Arturo Ithurralde.
The Central Americans scored in the eighth minute on a goal by Hector Zelaya, then absorbed everything the Spanish could throw at them until the penalty award allowed Roberto Lopez Ufarte to tie the score with 25 minutes to go.