Belgium left it very late once again, snatching a 1-0 victory over Fabio Capello’s Russia with Divock Origi that puts them in the Last 16.
The Red Devils got off to a shaky start, but fought back to beat Algeria 2-1, while Fabio Capello’s Russia were pegged back 1-1 by South Korea after an Igor Akinfeev howler. Marouane Fellaini and Napoli starlet Dries Mertens came off the bench to score for Belgium, so were put into the starting XI this time round.
Belgium beat Russia 3-2 in an epic 2002 World Cup clash, when current Coach Marc Wilmots got the winning goal.
It was Victor Fayzulin who got the first shot on target, forcing Thibaut Courtois to parry for a corner. Napoli talent Mertens repeatedly threatened with runs down the right, but hit the side-netting and forced a save at the near post.
Russia had penalty appeals for a Toby Alderweireld challenge on Maksim Kanunnikov waved away on 27 minutes. Moments later Kanunnikov was dangerous again, his long-range strike beaten away by Courtois.
Belgium lost defender Thomas Vermaelen to injury, as he had already been limping during the warm-up.
A fierce Fayzulin volley flashed over from a corner and moments later Alexander Kokorin really should’ve scored, as he turned a free header wide from six yards.
The second half was in a similar sluggish vein, livened only by a Belgian counter-attack that saw Divock Origi fall too easily as he tried to turn his marker.
Ignashevich couldn’t keep his header on target and Eschenko flashed an angled drive across the face of goal, just wide of the far post.
There was finally a great scoring opportunity for Belgium on 83 minutes, as Kevin Mirallas smashed a free kick against the base of the upright. Moments later Eden Hazard went on a mazy run and his finish was deflected off target.
The deadlock was eventually broken when Hazard skipped past defenders down the left and pulled back for teenager Origi to blast under the bar first-time from nine yards. It means all three Belgium goals in this World Cup have been scored by substitutes.
Mirallas should’ve made it 2-0 in stoppages, but scuffed his finish set up by Hazard.
Belgium 1-0 Russia
Scorers: Origi 88 (B)
Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vermaelen (Vertonghen 31); Witsel, Fellaini; Mertens (Mirallas 75), De Bruyne, E Hazard; Lukaku (Origi 57)
Russia: Akinfeev; Kozlov (Eshchenko 62), V Berezutskiy, Ignashevich, Kombarov; Glushakov, Fayzulin; Samedov (Kerzhakov 89), Kanunnikov, Shatov (Dzagoev 83); Kokorin
Ref: Brych (GER)