The diminutive winger felt Belgium benefited from his superior physical condition in their late win over Russia in Rio de Janeiro
By Jon Fisher at the Estadio Maracana
Eden Hazard felt his “freshness” allowed him to contribute to Belgium’s late victory over Russia on Sunday.
The Chelsea winger escaped down the left with two minutes to go before pulling the ball back for substitute Divock Origi to fire home the only goal of a poor game.
It meant Belgium advanced to the knockout stages while Russia’s fate will be decided in the final round of matches in Group H.
Man of the match Hazard said: “I feel fit, I’m in good shape so I try to make the difference and often I make the difference at the end of the match so that shows I am still fresh.
“It was a complicated match but we are very happy with the result and the victory. We still have one match to go and we are qualified. We will try to get three wins in this qualification campaign.”
The former Lille man admitted it had not been a classic encounter but was delighted the Red Devils’ superior fitness had carried them through.
“We didn’t play a very good match. The last 10 minutes were good, that’s all. The substitutes we had were fresh and I guess the Russian defence was a bit tired and we had more space,” he added.
Origi replaced the ineffective Romelu Lukaku 12 minutes into the second half but Hazard was quick to stick up for his club team-mate.
“I think Origi and Romelu have different styles. Lukaku didn’t have the ball very much, it was complicated for him, he did not have much space. I think Divock took advantage of that. I think both players had something to do with the victory.”