Sao Paulo: Jan Vertonghen’s late goal saw 10-man Belgium beat South Korea 1-0 in their final Group H match on Thursday, despite having Steven Defour sent off just before half-time for a nasty two-footed challenge.
The win made it a maximum nine points for the Belgians, who meet the USA in the last 16 of the World Cup in Salvador on Tuesday.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots made seven changes from the team that beat Russia, with captain Vincent Kompany and fellow-defender Thomas Vermaelen dropping out due to injuries and playmaker Eden Hazard starting on the bench.
“This is a Cup played in a very hot country, so you have to anticipate,” he said, when asked to explain his new-look team. Yet again our patient approach paid off. It’s no easy task to finish the group stage with nine points. It’s a truly historic achievement for Belgium.”
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Anthony Vanden Borre, Daniel Van Buyten, Nicolas Lombaerts, Jan Vertonghen; Steven Defour, Moussa Dembele, Dries Mertens (Divock Origi, 60th), Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (Nacer Chadli, 60th); Kevin Mirallas (Eden Hazard, 88th).
South Korea: Seung-Gyu Kim; Yong Lee, Young-Gwon Kim, Jeong-Ho Hong, Suk-Young Yun; Chung-Yong Lee, Kook-Young Han (Keun-Ho Lee, 46th), Sung-Yueng Ki, Heung-Min Son (Dong-Won Ji, 73rd); Ja-Cheol Koo, Shin-Wook Kim (Bo-Kyung Kim, 66th).
Man of the Match: Jan Vertonghen
Referee: Benjamin Williams (Australia) (Reuters)