Belgium supersub Origi sinks Russia in Rio
By Chris Wright ,AFP
June 24, 2014, 12:09 am TWN
RIO DE JANEIRO -- A late goal by teenage substitute Divock Origi was enough to secure Belgium a 1-0 victory over Russia and a place in the last 16 of the World Cup on Sunday.
Belgium, who have yet to lose a competitive match under coach Marc Wilmots, confirmed their tag as dark horses for the trophy while Russia, who are to host the 2018 finals, have just a point and face a huge task to qualify.
It leaves Russia's Italian coach Fabio Capello potentially facing an even earlier exit than the one four years ago when then in charge of England they went out in the second round.
The win left Belgium as clear Group H leaders with a maximum six points from two games after their 2-1 win over Algeria.
While Wilmots decision to take off out of sorts striker Romelu Lukaku and send on Origi proved an inspired one it also produced the sole sour note as the older striker looked to be furious as he took his place on the bench.
"I know people are not happy to be on the bench," said Wilmots, whose substitutions in the opening game also proved to be masterstrokes.
"But what is important is Belgium being able to rely upon totally devoted players when they are called upon.
"For the last 20 minutes I had people dying to be brought off the bench."
Origi, who plays for French First Division side Lille, for his part was overcome at scoring in such a sporting arena as the Maracana.
"It was very special to score here at the Maracana in the World Cup — and my family in the tribune too," said Origi.
"I hope I have paid back some of the confidence the coach has shown he has in me."
Capello, whose contract runs till the 2018 World Cup, had a penalty shout turned down in the first half which irked the Italian.