Before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, groups G and H were regarded by some as so-called “groups of death”, though they have turned out to be anything such.
Along with Group C, they are the only sections where not one team has been knocked out ahead of the final round of first-phase matches.
Thanks to their late winner against Russia on Sunday, Belgium are the only side from the last two groups to have clinched their place in the Round of 16.
The Russians are still in the mix along with Korea Republic, the day’s other losers in Group H, while Portugal were saved from instant elimination by a stoppage-time equaliser against USA in Group G.
Heading into the final round of games, every coach in the two pools is confident their sides can pull through, not least Russia boss Fabio Capello, who said: “I still think we’ve got a chance.”
Sunday saw three vitally important late goals scored, the first of them securing three points for Belgium.
Clint Dempsey also chipped in as the clock ran down, putting USA into the lead against Portugal only for Varela to nod home Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfect cross and earn his side a share of the points.
The tournament has so far seen 17 goals scored in the last ten minutes of play, more than one every two games, with nine of those goals proving decisive in the final outcome.
The meeting between Belgium and Russia only sparked into life late on.
Kevin Mirallas struck the woodwork for the Red Devils with six minutes remaining, with Eden Hazard then almost scoring with a solo effort before teeing up Divock Origi for the winner.
One man who was not on the pitch to celebrate Origi’s goal was Thomas Vermaelen, who injured himself in the pre-match warm-up and lasted for 31 minutes before being replaced by Jan Vertonghen.
Les Fennecs made a little piece of history in putting Korea Republic to the sword, becoming the first African side ever to score four in a FIFA World Cup match, a considerable achievement for a team that had only scored once in their two previous Finals appearances, at Mexico 1986 and South Africa 2010.
In keeping their qualification hopes alive, the Algerians also had their fans celebrating on the streets of their capital city Algiers.