Belgium avoid another World Cup shock with thrilling comeback win over Japan

03 July, 2018, 01:11 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Eden Hazard celebrates after scoring the 4-1 lead during the match

But Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini pulled them level and Chadli's victor means they will play Brazil in the last eight.

That's the first and most obvious takeaway after the Belgians - with a squad so embarrassingly talented that the Red Devils were universally considered a dark horse title threat despite having little history of success at the global level - were pushed to the limit by Japan, which took a two-goal lead early in the second half of their Round of 16 clash in Russian Federation before Belgium roared back to win 3-2 on Nacer Chadli's goal in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time.

As Belgium take on Japan on the third day of the round of 16 fixtures in Rostov Arena, looking for a spot in the Quarterfinals of the World Cup, let's take a look at the only previous meeting between these two nations in the World Cup.

As Belgium, 58 places above Japan at third in the Federation Internationale de Football Association world rankings, came out for the second half and soon found themselves trailing to strikes from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui.

However, just minutes later, a thumping header a from Jan Vertonghen reduced the deficit for Belgium on 69 minutes as a come back loomed.

Belgium settled into the match soon enough, though, and Roberto Martinez's side had no shortage of chances to take the lead.

"The group is in a very good moment mentally and physically, the players are desperate to be on the pitch", Martinez told a news conference. "We have top players and we play as a group, especially after the win over England", said the Chelsea star.

"Keep believing in Belgium". Belgium are a star studded team who will want to reach the quarterfinal without much trouble, while Japan are there to prove a tough nut to crack. The Manchester United striker has been a force in the tournament, scoring four goals in two starts.


Belgium defeated Japan 1-0 in a friendly in November, but Akira Nishino has since replaced the sacked Vahid Halilhodzic at the helm of the team.

After a goalless first-half, the game exploded into life after the break.

The ball was moved downfield quickly and when Vertonghen failed to intercept the final pass, Haraguchi sprinted clear.

"(Fans) were short-changed (the last) 10 minutes.

Eden Hazard then clattered a well-hit shot from a Dries Mertens cross off the post at the other end.

However, the tie turned on its head in a space of four second-half minutes as suddenly Japan were 2-0 up.

"Against Poland, it was a little bit different, but they had a very strong group". What Japan did got them to the round of 16, as the sole representative from Asia. Then Hazard spun out of trouble deep in Japan's end and sent a flawless cross Fellaini, who headed home the equalizer with 15 minutes remaining. "What is important is to progress and to reach the quarter-finals". He brings back the entire starting eleven from Japan's 2-2 draw against Senegal. I have played against (Keisuke) Honda, (Yuto) Nagatomo.

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