Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sport | By Ashley Hunter

Japan - World Cup - 2 July 2018

Japan - World Cup - 2 July 2018

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 worldwide 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.

Chadli's superbly worked goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time was the final act of an epic last-16 battle that saw Belgium become the first team in 48 years to successfully overturn a 2-0 deficit in a World Cup knockout game.

A Brazil-Belgium quarter-final could be one of the games of the tournament, but Hazard added: "We are not thinking about a game against Brazil".

Jan Vertonghen, undone by Gaku Shibasaki's through ball for Japan's opening goal, was fortunate to see his header loop over Kawashima and in under the crossbar to pull one back in the 69th minute.

Roberto Martinez's side defeated England 1-0 in their last outing to top Group G, earning what on paper should be a straightforward last 16 assignment against Japan. '(Fans) were short-changed 10 minutes and they probably got a bit less mileage than usual out of the first 80, ' he said.

"We'll have to be concentrating at all time due to their dynamic approach and the amount of players they can accumulate in both boxes".

"Keep believing in Belgium".

At 2-2, it was a repeat of the last World Cup meeting of these teams, at the 2002 tournament in Japan.

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The first-half had been relatively sedate, with neither side able to break the deadlock.

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

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen, 32, who played for 76 minutes against England, has proven he is over the thigh injury he suffered last month.

Falling behind rattled the Belgians as Hazard clattered the post moments later. Both sides finished on four points, as Japan slumped to an insipid 1-0 defeat against Poland - and Senegal lost by the same scoreline to Colombia. "What is important is to progress and to reach the quarter-finals". The African side had a lead on two occasions but never really managed to keep it that way and Japan sneaked to earn a 2-2 draw, which would prove decisive.

At the other end, Courtois saved Keisuke Honda's wickedly curling free shot which led to the winning goal.

Keisuke Honda's 30-metre free-kick was parried away by Courtois in stoppage time before the keeper launched the ball to Kevin De Bruyne to make a beeline upfield before finding Meunier, whose cross was met by Chadli for the victor.

Lukaku, who was marked, left it for Chadli to tap home and cap Belgium's stunning win right before the final whistle.

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