World Cup - Belgium beat South Korea, top group with perfect record

World Cup Group H, Arena Corinthians - South Korea 0 Belgium 1 (Vertonghen 77)

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World Cup - Belgium beat South Korea, top group with perfect record
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Belgium's defender Jan Vertonghen celebrates after scoring during a Group H football match between South Korea and Belgium at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 26, 2014 (AFP)

Belgium qualified with a perfect record of three wins, beating South Korea 1-0 despite being down to 10 men for more than half the match after Steven Defour’s red card.

Almost nothing happened in the first half, with Belgium happy to play a slow tempo, having already qualified and starting with a weakened side. Dries Mertens went close when he picked up a deflected Kevin Mirallas shot and blazed over from close range.

South Korea had chances of their own, but their best chance came from a cross which was almost turned in by Mousa Dembele and Anthony Vanden Borre into their own net.

Defour saw red for an ugly challenge as the first half drew to a close. In a 50-50 challenge with Kim Shinwook, he jumped in with a loose, two-footed stamp. The referee did not hesitate to send him off with a straight red, and although it brought boos from the crowd, it looked to be the right decision. Kim was fortunate to survive without any serious injury, and was able to continue playing.

With a little over 10 minutes left, Jan Vertonghen reacted quickest to Kim Sung-gyu’s block from Divock Origi’s shot, putting Belgium ahead, but by that point, with the Algeria-Russia score tied at 1-1, it made little difference to South Korea. Belgium will next meet USA, who might be their first serious challenge.

KEY EVENTS

25’ - MERTENS MISS! Marouane Fellaini flicks on a long throw, it falls to Mirallas, who attempts a shot which is blocked, and Mertens volleys the shot over.

30’ - KI SHOT! Ki picks the ball up in midfield and is unopposed. He strides towards goal and Thibaut Courtois gets across well to palm his shot behind. Moments later, from the corner, Vanden Borre and Dembele collide and almost bundle in a ball at the back post into their own goal.

44’ - DEFOUR SEES RED! Steven Defour jumps in two footed on Kim and is given a straight red for a ridiculous decision in a game that means nothing to Belgium

59’ - CHANCES AT BOTH ENDS! Mertens has a shot from distance that skids towards goal and Sung beats it away. At the other end, Son crosses from the right but his cross bounces off the bar after Courtois misjudged the flight of the ball.

61’ - KIM HEADER! From a South Korea header, Kim heads into the ground and up, but Courtois is well behind it.

77’ - VERTONGHEN GOAL! Origi has a shot from the edge of the box, Sung beats it away, and Vertonghen gets to the rebound so quickly, slotting the ball home between the keeper and post.

90 - HAZARD SHOT! Hazard sets Vanden Borre free to the byline and has his cross blocked. It rolls to Hazard, who blasts a shot across goal that Sung does excellently to reach and palm away.

90+1’ - LEE SHOT! From distance, Lee catches hold of a shot that wobbles towards goal and Courtois blocks.

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KEY STATS

South Korea have never beaten Belgium - this was their fourth meeting.

Belgium have conceded just one goal this World Cup, and that was from a penalty against Algeria.

Belgium’s last six World Cup goals have come in the last 20 minutes of matches.

Belgium are unbeaten in nine World Cup group stage games.

All four of Belgium’s goals have come from substitutes.

MATCHCAST: FULL MATCH STATS AND COMMENTARY

TALKING POINT

At what point will Belgium start playing well? Marc Wilmots has made effective substitutions in all his matches in the most important sense - they’ve gone on to score and Belgium have won - yet they have not impressed for sustained periods or suggested that talk of them as potential dark horses is justified. They have a lot of players from the Premier League, and that seems to be it.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

Divock Origi (Belgium): Given the poor display from Belgium, recognition should be given to a player who made the difference. Linked with a move to Liverpool, they would surely benefit from his close control, bravery and match intelligence that is rare in a player so young. In this match, it was his shot that was turned into the path of Vertonghen for Belgium’s winner.

PLAYER RATINGS

South Korea: Seung-gyu 5, Suk-Young 5, Kim Young-won 6, Heung-min 6, Yong 5, Ja-Cheol 5, Kook-Young 6, Sung-Yueng 6, Chung-Yong 6, Kim Shinwook 6, Jeong-Ho 5. Subs: Keunho 6, Kim Bokyung 5, Ji Dongwon 5.

Belgium: Courtois 6, Vanden-Borre 7, Van Buyten 6, Lombaerts 6, Vertonghen 6, Defour 5, Dembele 5, Fellaini 6, Mertens 6, Januzaj 6, Mirallas 6. Subs: Origi 7, Chadli 6, Hazard 7.

MATCH IN A TWEET

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