Two goals in four minutes gifted Belgium, who need a win in their make-or break match against Russia to qualify for the second round of the 2002 World Cup, a 3-2 edge over Russia Friday in Shizuoka.
After upsetting Russia, Belgium came to the runner-up of the group H with five points and jumped into the knock-out stage following the group winner World Cup co-hosts Japan who beat Tunisia 2-0 also in this afternoon and collected seven points. Russia could have survived the group if they had even tied the Belgians. But they left the pitch with tears.
Only seven minutes into the Belgium-Russia duel, Belgium's midfielder Johan Walem struck home a brilliant curling free kick, giving his side a 1-0 lead. Russia's goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullintook a move to the goal corner but mysteriously watched the ball flying into the net without saving it.
Belgium's midfielder Gert Verheyen squandered a clear scoring chance in the 44th when he fired a close-range volley over the barin the box.
The Russian rallied to launch counterattacks in the second halfand their efforts were paid off in the 52nd when forward Vladimir Beschastnykh darted into the box, getting the ball knocked out by Belgium's goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger, and sent it home without any hesitation.
However, Belgium's substitute forward Wesley Sonck jumped high and headed a corner kick home in the 78th. Only four minutes later,ace striker Marc Wilmots, who had already scored two goals for Belgium in their two group matches before, fired a volley into theright corner of the goal, which sent his team to a 3-1 lead.
Although Russia's forward Dmitry Sychev who got off the bench in the second half drove a shot home in the 88th, it was too late for the Russians to collect a draw.
After the last round of group H matches, Japan topped the groupwith seven points, followed by Belgium five, Russia four and Tunisia one.