Belgium struggled again to find a winner against South Korea until the dying stages of the 1-0 match in São Paulo as they played a majority of the match with 10 men due to Steven Defour‘s red card.
With the pressure on Belgium to win or draw to finish atop Group H, Jan Vertonghen struck in the 77th minute as he calmly finished a spilled rebound by South Korean keeper Kim Seung-Gyu following a Divock Origi shot.
The goal for Belgium was their third winner past the 75th minute in their three group matches so far. While Belgium has underwhelmed so far in this tournament, the squad has displayed an uncanny ability to make the special play late in games. All four of Belgium’s goals have come in the 70th minute or later which is a pretty remarkable stat.
For this match, Belgium chose to sit some of their better players like Eden Hazard, who made a late cameo, Axel Witsel, who was sitting on a yellow card, Vincent Kompany, who was out with a groin injury, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. Their offense suffered a bit as a result, but Belgium still managed to grab three points. Belgium will face the United States in the Round of 16.
South Korea came into this game needing a resounding win on the scoreboard as well as some help in the other game, but they were unable to break down the Belgian defense. South Korea finished the group stage with just one point and were minus-three in goal differential.
Belgium will need to improve their quality on the pitch for their contest against a tough United States team who has also shown some late-game heroics of their own in this World Cup. The two teams played a friendly last year in Cleveland which Belgium dominated 4-2, but the United States team will look a bit different from that squad in key areas.