Teenage forward Divock Origi turned a listless Belgian performance into a late 1-0 win over Russia, enough to qualify for the next round of the World Cup with two straight victories.
Belgium barely contained a reinvigorated Russia for most of the match, yet struck with a blistering final spurt of class and opportunism to turn a bad situation into a wild celebration for coach Marc Wilmots in the 88th minute and hugs all around at the fulltime.
At first it looked like late moves from Eden Hazard would only camouflage a dismal performance.After their dour 1-1 draw with South Korea, Russia produced the kind of sparkle and dominance that most had been expected more from Belgium in front of 73,819 increasingly restless fans at Maracana stadium.
But then the playmaker made a move into the area on the left and spotted Origi free in the centre. A pinpoint pass from Hazard and cool right-foot finishing from the 19-year-old Origi gave Belgium more than it deserved.
Even if Vincent Kompany had recovered from a groin strain to play a polished first half, the surprise call-up of defender Thomas Vermaelen to start the game totally backfired.
The Arsenal defender injured his knee in the warmup and lasted only 31 minutes before limping off.