Jan Vertonghen’s late goal gives 10-man Belgium a third win

Steven Defour gets straight red card but Red Devils too strong for South Korea

Belgium 1 South Korea 0

South Korea completed a miserable World Cup for Asia, becoming the fourth of four representatives to go out in the group stage as they lost to a much-changed Belgium side that played half the game with 10 men after the dismissal of Steven Defour.

As it turned out, South Korea would have had to win by three to go through and that never seemed likely even before Jan Vertonghen followed in to score after Kim Seung-gyu had beaten away a drive from the prodigious 19-year-old forward Divock Origi.

The Lille centre forward, who had scored the winner against Russia, had made rather more impact than Adnan Januzaj, who made his Belgium debut to end any thought he might turn out for Kosovo or, less probably, England.


There had been suggestions that Belgium’s coach, Marc Wilmots, felt that Januzaj was lacking a little intensity in training, and this was not the most auspicious debut.

It was, admittedly, a fairly pedestrian performance all-round from a team that had already qualified, so it would be wrong to read too much into the Manchester United forward’s performance, but he was involved only fleetingly, a peripheral figure in every sense as he trotted up and down the right touchline.

He was withdrawn to no great fanfare or surprise for Nacer Chadli just before the hour.

Belgium had seemed to be sauntering towards top spot in the group when, in the final minute of the first half, Defour jumped in as Kim Shin-wook went to ground and stamped on his shin.

It was an incident both out of keeping with the game and inexplicable, but the Australian referee, Ben Williams, was surely right to show the red card.

Suddenly, for South Korea, there was a chance where previously there had merely been grouchy stalemate. Belgium, fancied as they were before the tournament and having won their opening two games, had not been especially fluent anyway, but they were even scrappier than before after making seven changes from the side that beat Russia.

Dries Mertens skied one decent chance and Kevin Mirallas fizzed about with enthusiasm, as though delighted after a season spent largely on the flank to find grass on both sides of him, but they looked largely like what they were – a side fulfilling an obligation rather than desperate to win.

South Korea, meanwhile, showed more conviction than they had against Algeria, but seemed to have little game plan early on other than to run into the box and fall over, allowing Williams to showcase an increasingly irritated rage of air-chopping that’s-not-a-foul hand gestures.

A frenetic opening yielded to a more composed approach and Ki Sung-yeung forced a fine low save from the Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a 30-yard drive, before Defour was forced to hack off the line as a cross was deflected towards his own goal by Mousa Dembele.

The expected second-half charge from South Korea never really materialised, though.

Son Heung-min did hit the crossbar late on with a mishit cross that looped too high even for Courtois to reach, but that was as close as they came and it was Belgium, finishing the game more strongly than they had begun it for the third match running, who had the better chances.

Asia’s World Cup adventure had ended with barely a whimper.

BELGIUM: 1 Thibaut Courtois; 21 Anthony Vanden Borre, 15 Daniel Van Buyten, 18 Nicolas Lombaerts, 5 Jan Vertonghen; 16 Steven Defour, 8 Marouane Fellaini, 19 Moussa Dembele; 14 Dries Mertens (17 Divock Origi, 60 mins), 11 Kevin Mirallas (10 Eden Hazard, 88 mins), 20 Adnan Januzaj (22 Nacer Chadli, 60 mins). Yellow card: Dembele. Red Card: Defour.

SOUTH KOREA: 21 Kim Seunggyu; 12 Lee Yong, 5 Kim Younggwon, 20 Hong Jeongho, 3 Yun Sukyoung; 14 Han Kookyoung (11 Lee Keunho, half-time), 16 Ki Sungyueng; 17 Lee Chungyong, 9 Son Heungmin (19 Ji Dongwon, 73 mins); 13 Koo Jacheol, 18 Kim Shinwook (7 Kim Bokyung, 66 mins). Yellow card: Hong Jeongho.