Belgium and Russia went into the second game of their world cup journey knowing very straightforward scenarios. A Belgium win would see them advance to the knockout rounds, while a Russia win would open the door for everyone else in the group. A draw would still make Belgium favorites to go through, but they could be subject to a shock exit if things didn’t go their way.
Belgium began the game with a frantic pace, and seemed to want to make a statement early on in the match. The star of the opening stages was former Chelsea man Kevin De Bruyne, who found himself in an attacking position on numerous occasions, and was a constant threat to the Russia defense. When De Bruyne quieted down, Dries Mertens picked up the slack, using his pace to continue applying pressure in the Russian third. Still Belgium couldn’t find the breakthrough, and Russia tried to take advantage. They weren’t afraid to get shots off, and forced keeper Thibaut Courtois into a couple of saves. The score going into halftime would be 0-0, with Belgium looking to be the favorites but Russia still posing a threat.
The second half began similar to the first, Belgium showing their class, but not being able to make anything happen in the final third. This allowed Russia to gain momentum, and for a point late in the game it seemed as if Russia would be the ones to score the first goal. Instead it would be the Belgians, but from an unlikely source. Divock Origi put the Belgians in front in the 88th minute, becoming the youngest Belgian to score in a world cup. Russia to tried for a dramatic equalizer, but couldn’t get any real chances on goal.
Belgium have now secured their place in the round of 16.
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