A late goal from Divock Origi against Russia guaranteed Belgium’s place in the next round, but South Korea, albeit still in with a chance, looked least likely to join them after a draw against Russia and resounding loss to Algeria. An early goal in the other match for Russia meant they still had hope of escaping the group, especially against a weakened side with little to play for.
Marc Wilmots kept just four players from the team that started against Russia, while Hong Myung-Bo made one alteration, bringing in 6ft 4 striker Kim Shin-Wook for Park Chu-Young – both teams opting for 4-2-3-1s.
While fairly watchable, there was little tactical interest to the game. South Korea showed more purpose going forward than their previously ultra-conservative passing and were energetic in defence, while Belgium looked fluid if not dangerous – Dries Mertens was again their brightest spark, but Adnan Januzaj was on a different wavelength to his teammates, him only recently joining the squad glaringly obvious, and Kevin Mirallas constantly moving offside. There were a few half-chances but ultimately Steven Defour’s silly red card was the only event of note from the first half.
With a man advantage, you would expect South Korea to push on in search of a winner, yet it wasn’t until late in the game that they really committed men forward and, even then, substitute Divock Origi was left alone with most of their back four. Belgium were the more dangerous team and it didn’t surprise when they took the lead from a quick break.
Belgium advance with a 100% record despite disappointing, but South Korea go home winless and won’t be missed.