Waseige answers critics in style


Belgium -3 Russia - 2 Belgium coach Robert Waseige answered his critics yesterday after guiding his team into the second round of the World Cup finals and a glamorous meeting with favourites Brazil.

Belgium clinched the runners-up spot behind Japan and a place in the last 16.

Waseige (62), who had steered his team through two previous drawn games in the group, had been criticised for picking the wrong team and using negative tactics, but saw his players provide a perfect riposte to the commentators back in Belgium.

"I have several reasons to be happy after this very positive result," he said. "The first is that we are through to the second round, the second is that we will play Brazil and the third is that we have proved wrong the critics who have said things against us from so far away."

Striker Wesley Sonck, who Waseige's critics had demanded be recalled to lead the attack after the team's limp showing against Tunisia, was brought on for the last 30 minutes and headed the Belgians back in front with 12 minutes to go.

Captain Marc Wilmots then scored a third with a well-struck 20-metre left-foot shot four minutes later before the impressive 18-year-old Dmitry Sychev, a first-half substitute after Russia had fallen behind, scored their second in the 88th minute.

Russia coach Oleg Romantsev has quit in the wake of their World Cup exit. The 48-year-old, who is also Spartak Moscow coach, said he and his coaching staff had decided to step down.

SUBSTITUTES - Belgium: Sonck for M Mpenza (70 mins), Simons for Verheyen (79 mins), Van Meir for De Boeck (90 mins).

Russia: Sychev for Smertin (34 mins), Sennikov for Nikiforov (42 mins), Kerzakov for Karpin (84 mins).

YELLOW CARDS: Belgium - Yves Vanderhaeghe 39

Russia - Andrei Solomatin 12, Alexei Smertin 14, Dmitry Alenichev 64