Belgium remain top of World Cup Group H after an Eden Hazard-inspired win over Russia at the Maracana.
The Chelsea Player of the Year had endured a quiet afternoon in Rio before sparking to life three minutes from time, cutting in from the left, getting to the bye-line and pulling back for substitute Divock Origi to fire a late winner that takes the Red Devils through to the knockout stages.
Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku were also starters for the Belgians, who for long periods struggled with the high expectations placed upon them, as they did in their opener against Algeria in the week.
Lukaku was withdrawn by Belgium manager Marc Wilmots 11 minutes after the break with the scores goalless, to be replaced by Origi, but neither side could create a meaningful opportunity, with Courtois enjoying a quieter second period having made two decent saves in the first half.
Another substitute, Kevin Mirallas, hit a post with a late free-kick, while Hazard also went close as the Belgians began to threaten in the closing stages, the Chelsea man eventually turning supplier for Origi on 87 minutes. In stoppage time another run from the winger created a chance for Mirallas, but his low shot was easily saved by Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
The win takes Belgium on to six points after their two games, with South Korea and Algeria to meet later on Sunday.
Chelsea’s next World Cup involvement comes on Monday, with Spanish trio Fernando Torres, Cesar Azpilicueta and Cesc Fabregas preparing to face Australia in their final group game in Curitiba before flying home, while later on our Brazilian trio of Oscar, Willian and Ramires face Samuel Eto’o’s already eliminated Cameroon in Brasilia. A win should confirm Brazil at the top of Group A.