2018 World Cup lat-16 match report Belgium v Japan 02 July 2018
Posted: 2 July 2018
Belgium made history in Rostov with a stunning come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Japan to seal a quarter-final berth at the 2018 World Cup.
The Belgians rewrote the history books after becoming the first team at a World Cup to have two substitutes score in a knockout match, while also becoming the first side since 1970 to overturn a 2-0 deficit and win in the elimination rounds.
Buoyed by their underdog tag, the Blue Samurai were prepared to not roll over, producing the first shot at goal through Shinji Kagawa in the opening minute.
Belgium tried to turn the screw but a seemingly impenetrable Japanese defence made it difficult for them to gain any forays through the last third.
With four goals in the tournament, Romelu Lukaku wasn’t able to add to his tally after failing to steer home a sitter as the ball became tangled under his feet just yards out from goal.
Japan’s impressive early showing continued as good work from Kagawa on the left picked out Takashi Inui, but he headed straight at the keeper.
A minute to the break, Yuto Nagatomo’s low cross came off Yuya Osako, with the deflection leaving Courtois needing scrambling after the ball slipped between his legs and almost over the line.
Japan raced into the lead shortly after the break with a smart low finish from Genki Haraguchi after running onto a through-ball from main man Kagawa.
The Red Devils nearly found an instant reply, but Eden Hazard was denied by the post after firing from just inside the box.
The Asians then further stunned the Belgians with a second goal through a sensational strike from 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.
Substitute Marouane Fellaini then used his height advantage to head home a cross and level matters to set up a mouthwatering final quarter with 15 minutes remaining.
In quick succession, Belgium looked ominious when a header from Nacer Chadli drew a save from Kawashima, while in the same sequence, Lukaku forced the goalkeeper to flick an identical effort over.
Substitute Keisuke Honda's long-range free-kick was the closest it got for Japan to go back in front but Courtois was equal to the task.
From a quick counter-attack, Belgium pounced on the counter end to eventually set up Chadli to tap in the winner for a last eight meeting with Brazil.
Article by: Staff Reporter