RIO DE JANEIRO — Twice now, Belgium has relied on a late revival boosted by stamina and its bench to turn desperate situations around at the World Cup.
On Sunday, it was teenager Divock Origi who turned a listless Belgian performance into a 1-0 win over Russia, enough to qualify for the next round.
Belgium barely contained a reinvigorated Russia most of the match yet struck with a blistering late spurt of opportunism 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.”
After its 1-1 draw with South Korea, Russia produced the kind of sparkle and dominance that most had been expected more from Belgium.
With Belgian King Philippe looking on, substitute Kevin Mirallas hit a free kick against the post in 84th minute, setting off the amazing turnaround.
At first it appeared as if late flashes 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 center. A pinpoint pass from Hazard and cool right-foot finishing from the 19-year-old Origi gave Belgium the victory.
“Nobody could have thought this possible,” said Origi, who was only called into the squad because No. 1 striker Christian Benteke injured his Achilles in April.
Most of Belgium 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 and was let down by its blunt finishing touch. That helped give Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois his 100th professional clean sheet at age 22.
“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: In Porto Alegre, Brazil, Islam Slimani scored one goal and set up two more as Algeria swept aside South Korea to become the first African team to score four goals in a World Cup match.
The result gives Algeria its first World Cup win since 1982 and moves it into second place in Group H with one match left to play, against Russia.
Slimani opened the scoring with a fine solo goal after 26 minutes as his team raced into a 3-0 lead at halftime.
But it had to withstand a South Korean rally to secure the points.
The loss for South Korea means it must beat already-qualified Belgium and hope that other results go its way to progress to the knockout stages.