Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne believes a patient approach will be the key to Belgium's FIFA World Cup™ success after they came from behind to beat Algeria 2-1 in their Group H opener.
The Belgians trailed 1-0 at half-time in Tuesday's match after Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli converted a penalty, but they hit back with substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens scoring in the second half in Belo Horizonte.
"The first half was very difficult because Algeria played well," De Bruyne said. "We had more spaces in the second half and we worked better to take the win. We were patient, which is something important in these types of games."
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said he had to lift his team's morale at half-time. "The players seemed like beaten men in the dressing room," he said. "But I told them that I was sure that we would score eventually."
We were patient, which is something important in these types of games.
Wilmots made two crucial substitutions, bringing in goalscorers Fellaini and Mertens in the second half. "The substitutions I made injected a bit of pace, which changed the game after the break," Wilmots said.
De Bruyne was voted man of the match as the Wolfsburg midfielder, formerly of Chelsea, set up Fellaini for his team's equaliser before making a key tackle to start a counter-attack that led to Belgium's winner. "Once we got the draw, I knew that we would be able to score again and win the game," he said, according to L'Equipe.
De Bruyne knows that a lot of people are picking Belgium to top the group but he does not want to think about that prospect. "There is a lot of expectation on us," said the 22-year-old. "But we prefer to take it one game at a time. Now we will prepare in the best possible way for our next rival which is Russia. Then we will take on South Korea before we focus on the next round."
Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic was disappointed with his team's loss but proud of their effort. "I told my players that they should not be ashamed of the result," he said. "We came close to achieving something great. We weren't far away from pulling off an upset. We are disappointed but we cannot cry. We have to be ready for our next game, which will be a stern test."
Belgium take on Russia on Sunday at the Maracanã stadium. Russia drew 1-1 against the Korea Republic in Tuesday's other Group H game and the result left Algeria at the foot of the standings. The African side face South Korea in Porto Alegre on Sunday.