Belgium seal a place in the World Cup Last 16
Posted: 22 June 2014
Belgium are all but through to the Last 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup after leaving it late to take three points from a resilient Russian side at the Maracanã.
In a slow-paced Group H encounter, Belgium and Russia were seemingly headed into a stalemate result but a late goal from Divock Origi who positioned himself well to win it for Belgium.
AS IT HAPPENED
Belgium started off as the more promising of the two sides by dominating the ball possession stats, and showing more desire to open the scoring.
Left-winger Dries Mertens was arguably the spark in the Belgian attack as the 27-year-old was instrumental in a number of chances created in the first half, but Russian goalkeeper Akifeev up to the task on a number of occasions.
Russia slowly came into the game, and looked more likely of the two sides to score as they had a good chance in the 12th minute when Courtois was forced into making a good save from a long range effort.
The pace of the match slowed down as the two sides became more conservative as they looked not to concede before the break, but Russia ended the half on the front foot when Glushakov made a promising run down the left wing and delivered a good cross into the box but a disappointing header failed to trouble the Belgian goalkeeper.
The second half started off much like the first half ended, with little threat on either goal. Thibot Courtios and Igor Akinfeev were mere spectators for most of the first half with neither side managing to test the goalkeepers.
Ball posession stats were sitting at 50/50 and both teams struggled to get their final ball through the opposition defence and saw the game opening up ever so slightly.
Russia registered the first shot on goal of the second half with Eschenko's long range effort going narrowly wide of Courtois' goal, which gave the Russians some confidence as they kept the pressure on in the Belgium half.
Mirallas introduction in the 75th minute brought some new energy to the Belgian attack, and the midfielder's first opportunity came in the 83rd minute from a free-kick just outside the Russian 18-yard area with the Everton midfielder's effort hitting Akinfeev's up-right.
The momentum swung Belgium's way from then onward and The Red Devils deservedly grabbed the lead in the 88th minute through substitute Divock Origi after a good run from Eden Hazard on the left flank. The Chelsea forward picked out Origi on the edge of the 6-yard box and the striker made no mistake in burying the ball in the back of the net.
The late goal all but secured Belgium's progression from Group H, as they lead the group with six points from two matches. Russia now have to rely on Algeria and Korea play to a draw for them to stand a chance of joining Belgium in The Last 16 with one match to play.
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Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)