June 22, 2014 12:50 pm

World Cup: Belgium secures spot in 2nd round with 1-0 over Russia

Russia's midfielder Viktor Fayzulin and Belgium's midfielder Axel Witsel (top) vie for the ball during a Group H football match between Belgium and Russia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 22, 2014. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Teenage forward Divock Origi scored in the 88th minute as Belgium beat Russia 1-0 Sunday to secure a spot in the second round at the World Cup.

Belgium barely contained a reinvigorated Russia for most of the match, yet struck with a blistering final spurt of class and opportunism to turn a bad situation into a wild celebration for coach Marc Wilmots in the 88th minute and hugs all around at the fulltime.

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“It was not easy, but we never gave up,” Wilmots said.

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After its dour 1-1 draw with South Korea, Russia produced the kind of sparkle and dominance that most had been expected more from Belgium in front of 73,819 increasingly restless fans at Maracana stadium.

With Belgian King Philippe looking on, substitute Kevin Mirallas hit a freekick against the post in 84th minute, setting off a late revival. At first it looked like late moves from Eden Hazard would only camouflage a dismal performance.

But then the playmaker made a move into the area on the left and spotted Origi free in the centre. A pinpoint pass from Hazard and cool right-foot finishing from the 19-year-old Origi gave Belgium more than it deserved.

 

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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