By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A late goal from Origi helped Belgium to a 1-0 win over Belgium at the Maracanã this afternoon, guaranteeing their place in the last sixteen of the FIFA World Cup. The hero of the day was Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, who provided the assist for the only goal of a tightly fought game.
Belgium had been marginally the better side of a largely even contest, and if any side was going to snatch a winner they looked the more likely. Striker Romeu Lukaku, one of their great hopes for this tournament, had an off day, and was substituted early for the eventual match winner.
Russia however had few chances of their own and threatened more than sporadically. Fayzulin forced Belgian goalkeeper Courtois into a smart stop in the first half, and that was far from the extent of Russia’s offensive threat for the opening exchanges.
The Russian full-backs boldly pushed forward and crossed, but their play lacked the attacking capabilities to capitalize on their aggression. To make matters worse for Belgium, left-back Thomas Varmaelen left the action after half an hour with an injury to his left knee.
Just before the half-time whistle, Kokorin had the best chance of the first half for Russia, getting up above Belgian captain Vincent Kompany, but headed just wide. The sides went in at the break goalless.
Russia pushed in the second half but there remained no cutting edge at the business end of the pitch. right at the death, Belgium would make them pay with an expertly constructed piece of play. Hazard sent in a low cross from the left which found Origi unmarked in the penalty area. the striker sent the ball into the roof of the net to snatch the points for Belgium.
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