South Korea vs Belgium: Thibault Courtois relieved to have qualified for second round as Belgium prepare for high-flying United States
Goalkeeper feels that the performance in the 1-0 victory was good enough and will now begin preparations for Tuesday's last-16 tie
Friday 27 June 2014
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois breathed a sigh of relief after his team scored a late goal to beat South Korea at the World Cup.
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen gave the Red Devils a 1-0 triumph on Thursday in Sao Paulo to clinch first place in Group H and set up a meeting with the United States in the round of 16.
South Korea went into the game with a chance of advancing themselves but were denied by Courtois and the Belgian defensive wall.
"The Koreans had to score and it was a complicated game," Courtois said to http://www.dhnet.be. "It was important for me and for the team not to concede a goal."
Belgium had already secured a place in the next round and coach Marc Wilmots made seven changes to the side that beat Russia 1-0.
"There were many changes to the team but I thought we did well in the first half, with the exception of the red card," said Courtois, who won the Spanish Primera Liga with Atletico Madrid in the 2013-14 campaign while on loan from Chelsea.
The win was all the more gratifying considering Belgium had to play with 10 men from the 37th minute after Porto midfielder Steven Defour was sent off for a reckless challenge on Kim Shin-wook.
Belgium held their composure and showed plenty of resolve to beat Hong Myung-bo's side.
"In the second half, it was essential to defend well and to score on the counter attack," Courtois said. "Now we will have to prepare in the best way possible for the game against the United States.
"The important thing was to qualify."
Belgium have scored four goals and given away one in the group stages heading into Tuesday's match against the United States.
Jan Vertonghen celebrates scoring for Belgium Wilmots is delighted with his team's performances at the tournament so far.
"We knew all games were going to be tough at the World Cup," the 45-year-old said. "But even with 10 men against South Korea we still pushed forward and won the game.
"I particularly liked the mentality that my players showed when we were down 10 men.
"Despite the initial shock after Steven's sending off, the players stayed in the game.
"These guys are really hungry.
"There was a lot of pressure for my players ahead of this tournament in Brazil but I think with this nine out of nine (points), we have responded well."
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