RIO DE JANEIRO – After an hour, the fans were whistling. A few minutes later, the stadium’s giant video screens flashed a shot of a man asleep in his seat. With Belgium playing Russia, it was that kind of day — until suddenly it wasn’t.
With one quick counterattack — a rare moment of excitement in the 88th of 90 dreary minutes — Belgium grabbed a 1-0 victory Sunday and a place in the World Cup’s round of 16.
It was the second straight match in which Belgium scored a late winner, and it set up the Belgians as the favorites to win Group H. That would mean a date against the second-place finisher in Group G, possibly the United States, to open the knockout stage.
“We didn’t play a very good match,” said Eden Hazard, whose pass led to the goal. “The last 10 minutes were good. That’s all.”
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The goal was scored by Divock Origi, a 19-year-old who plays for Lille in France. Origi, who has made four appearances for Belgium, entered as a substitute in the 57th minute.
After the goal, players ran to Origi, coach Marc Wilmots ran onto the field and the announced crowd of 73,819 — which at one point had chanted in Portuguese about “second-division” soccer — released a collective thank-you cry.
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – Algeria scored three times in the first 38 minutes and went on to a 4-2 victory over South Korea in a Group H match.
It was Algeria’s first victory in World Cup play since 1982.
“The first period was almost perfect,” Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said.
• A shirtless man who invaded the pitch during the Germany-Ghana 2-2 draw Saturday was a neo-Nazi sympathizer, according to a report that will be delivered to FIFA on Monday.
• Former Argentina great Diego Maradona was labeled a “bad-luck charm” by Julio Grondona, Argentina football association president, on Saturday.
On live television Sunday, Maradona had a response — a middle-finger gesture after talking about Grondona.