Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sports

Belgium tops Russia thanks to teenager's goal

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Twice in this World Cup, Belgium has relied on a late revival boosted by stamina and its bench to turn desperate situations around. Sunday, it was teenager Divock Origi who turned a listless Belgian performance into a late 1-0 win over Russia, enough to qualify for the next round.

Belgium barely contained a reinvigorated Russia for most of the match, then struck to turn a bad situation into a wild, fist-pumping celebration for coach Marc Wilmots and his team in the 88th minute.

"Why were we good in last 10 minutes? Simple, the others were tired," Wilmots said. "The Russians were so tired they looked at their feet, and it offered us chances to counter."

Russia produced the kind of dominance that most had been expected more from Belgium in front of 73,819 increasingly restless fans at Maracana stadium.

As Belgian King Philippe looked on, substitute Kevin Mirallas hit a free kick against the post in 84th minute.

A couple of minutes later midfielder Eden Hazard, who otherwise didn't make much impact, made a move into the 18-yard box on the left and spotted Origi free in the center. Hazard's pinpoint pass and Origi's cool right-foot finish gave Belgium the win.

"Nobody could have thought this possible," said Origi, 19, who was called into the squad because No. 1 striker Christian Benteke injured his Achilles in April. Even a lot of Belgians barely knew of the talented young player developing quickly for Lille in the French league.

Russia applied most of the pressure in the second half but was let down by its finishing.

"We got the last pass wrong, or shot too quickly," Russia coach Fabio Capello said. "The result was unfair, but the fact is we lost."

Algeria 4, South Korea 2: Islam Slimani scored a goal and helped create two more in Porto Alegre as Algeria became the first African team to score four goals in a World Cup match.

It's Algeria first World Cup win since 1982 and gives "The Desert Foxes" a leg up for second spot in Group H with three points, two more than Russia and South Korea.

"The first period was almost perfect," Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. "I'd like to dedicate this victory to the fans and the Algerian people who have been waiting for this for many, many years."

South Korea must beat already-qualified Belgium and hope other results go its way to reach the knockout stages.

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