Belgium were fortunate to record their second win in as many games at the World Cup, as Divock Origi netted an 88th-minute winner against Russia. It was another lackluster performance from Marc Wilmots' Red Devils, with Fabio Capello's side the more dangerous for large passages of play. However, they lost concentration late, and paid a heavy price. The Red Devils are now through to the knockout stages, while Russia are on the brink of elimination.
Belgium only ever really impressed in the first and final few minutes of the match, but were pretty lousy in between. Early on their winger Dries Mertens -- introduced in place of Nacer Chadli for this match -- looking especially dangerous down their right side. He had a shot in the box blocked inside the opening 10 minutes, shortly before he drilled a dangerous low cross at Russia's near post, though Romelu Lukaku couldn't get on the end of it.
Late game miracle
Late game miracle
Though they played with a high tempo early on, Lukaku's chance was symptomatic of the Red Devils' problem throughout the first half -- Mertens looked lively, though the majority of his teammates weren't on the same wavelength. As a result of Belgium's attacking impotence Russia grew in confidence, and by halftime Fabio Capello's underdogs were unfortunate to not be ahead.
They had a good penalty shout just short of the half-hour when Toby Alderweireld tripped winger Maksim Kanunnikov in the box, minutes before the Russian attacker darted inside and forced a good stop from Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois. However, the best chance of the entire half didn't come until its final moments, when Denis Glushakov whipped a lethal cross into the Belgian box, only for a free Alexander Kokorin to head wide from close range.
Russia carried their momentum into the second half and enjoyed their longest spells in possession in the few minutes following the restart, but failed to create anything of note. Belgium gradually sunk deeper towards their own goal as a result, playing at a lethargic tempo that left them unable to exploit any pace their opponents were leaving in behind. After a disappointing display against Algeria in the opening game, Belgium looked no better.
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They came alive inside the final 10 minutes, however, when a low free kick from Eden Hazard zipped off the turn and against Igor Akinfeev's post. The chance seemed to jolt the Red Devils awake, and Hazard was at the heart of all of their attacking play. For the first time he drifted into central positions, and caused havoc in Russia's defensive ranks. It paid dividends with just two minutes remaining, when he danced into the box and pulled the ball back across for substitute Divock Origi to smash into the roof of the net. Russia had no reply, and succumbed to an unfortunate defeat.
Belgium: Courtois; Vermaelen (Vertonghen 31'), Kompany, van Buyten, Alderweireld; Fellaini, Witsel, De Bruyne; Hazard, Lukaku (Origi 57'), Mertens (Mirallas 75').
Goals: Origi (88').
Russia: Akinfeev; Kombarov, Ignashevich, Berezutski, Kozlov (Yeshchenko 62'); Fayzulin, Glushakov, Shatov (Dzagoev 83'); Kanunnikov, Kokorin, Samedov (Kerzhakov 90').