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Russians vanquished

Van Buyten and Belgium make last sixteen

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Arjen Robben was the first FCB star to book a place in the World Cup knockout stages, and he has now been followed by Daniel van Buyten after Belgium struck late to defeat Russia by the only goal of the game in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday evening. The Red Devils are top of Group H with maximum points from two matches and are certain to finish in the top two. Van Buyten again covered the full 90 minutes as he made his 81st appearance for his country.

“We're very happy," said the Bayern man afterwards, “it wasn't at all easy today." The 74,700 crowd at the legendary Maracana saw Marc Wilmots’ side open brightly but rapidly run out of ideas. The East Europeans bided their time and should have taken the lead a minute from the break, only for Aleksandr Kokorin to squander a glorious headed chance.

Pace and precision were lacking as the teams cancelled each other out in the second half. The match was void of goalmouth action for long spells and the play became scrappy due to a plethora of niggling fouls. Belgium, seen by many as a useful outside bet in Brazil, were unable to release their potent attack to any effect. But for the second time at the tournament the Red Devils roused themselves towards the end, with sub Divock Origi blasting home the 88th-minute winner from an Eden Hazard lay-off.

“Once again we've shown that the players who are summoned from the bench are as motivated as anyone else," enthused Van Buyten. Belgium will meet the team finishing first or second in Germany's group in their Round of 16 tie. Regardless of the identity of their opponents Van Buyten is looking forward to the knockout stages: “Let's see how far little Belgium can go."