Coventry City Under-18s Manager Darren Murray gives his thoughts on Belgium's display against South Korea...
Jan Vertonghen’s late winner secured maximum points for Belgium in Group H, despite being down to ten men for 45 minutes against South Korea after Steven Defour’s red card.
Coventry City Under-18s manager Darren Murray gave his verdict:
Belgium were absolutely incredible defensively. Even with three changes to the back four, they were still too solid a unit for South Korea to break down. The Koreans played really well, they passed it well, had an energy and zip about them, they looked lively. But they just came up against a defensive unit and midfield which doesn’t let anything in behind them. It was an incredible defensive display.
It was even better considering Steven Defour’s red card. What was he doing? The lad is at a World Cup and he does that? Absolutely crazy. My only thought was that he was intentionally trying to hurt him. But with the red card Belgium went to a 4-4-1 formation and aimed to hit the Koreans on the break.
I have really liked the look of Divock Origi, he looks a real talent and has changed the game for Belgium when he’s come on in the last two games with his pace and directness. Their group is so strong and they have so much strength in depth.
They have such good attacking players like Dries Mertens, who is excellent, and we all know about Eden Hazard.
But the defensive unit is so hard to break down, it was a wall last night. When you play close together, not let anyone in the lines, keep an excellent shape it is tough for attacking teams.
Thibaut Courtois didn’t have anything to do, he’s a top keeper but that just shows how well they played. Korea did play very well and were excellent with pace and passing in the final third, they just came up against an inspired defence.
Obviously Belgium nicked the goal too, and they look a real threat for the rest of the competition – simply because they are hard to break down. We haven’t seen the best of them from an attacking sense, but with that defence, which had two absences last night, teams will find it difficult. They’ve only conceded a penalty so far and I think they can go a long way in the tournament with that shape.
Performance rating: Belgium 7/ South Korea 7
Man of the match: Jan Vertonghen – The Spurs defender not only scored the valuable late winner, but was a real leader at the back as skipper in place of the injured Vincent Kompany. The Belgian defence was solid, and Vertonghen was an integral part of that.
Prospects: Belgium now go on to face the US in the last 16 on Tuesday, while South Korea are out. The Koreans needed a four goal swing to advance after Russia’s 1-1 draw to group runners-up Algeria.