By Mike Collett
Divock Origi sent Belgium into the last 16 of the World Cup when the teenager struck an 88th minute winner to secure a 1-0 victory against Russia in a largely lifeless Group H match at the Maracana on Sunday.
He rifled in just minutes after Kevin Mirallas crashed a free kick against the base of the Russian post to give Belgium six points from two games.
Russia have one point with South Korea and Algeria meeting in the other Group H match in Porto Alegre later on Sunday.
Apart from a rousing finale when Belgium finally awoke from their lethargy, the match was one of the poorest in the tournament so far with both teams regularly booed by the 73,000 crowd.
Despite a few flashes of inspiration from Belgium’s right-winger Dries Martens in the first half and their attacking finish at the end, the match never rose above the largely forgettable.
Mertens did his best to spark Belgium into life before the break giving left back Dmitry Kombarov a torrid time, but although he was a constant threat, none of his work produced a goal.
He fired into the side netting and had another effort across the face of goal before the break as Belgium sought the victory that would put them into the knockout stages.
Russia had what appeared to be a decent penalty claim turned down when Toby Alderweireld appeared to catch Maksim Kanunnikov just inside the area and missed a great chance just before halftime when Alexander Kokorin miscued his header wide.
Belgium skipper Vincent Kompany recovered from a groin strain to take part and made some typically robust defensive tackles, but his left-back partner Thomas Vermaelen injured his knee in the warm-up and although he started the game he was replaced by Jan Vertonghen midway through the first half.