Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Belgium 3 - 2 Japan | 02 Jul 2018

World Cup 2018 Japan Bidding To Make History Says Akira Nishino Japan will face Belgium in the World Cup Round of 16 clash
Eugene Bates | 03 July, 2018, 00:39

Some might argue that Roberto Martinez's side would have had a less challenging path through the draw if they had finished second in Group G. In that scenario, they would have faced a potential quarter-final against Switzerland or Sweden.

Genki Haraguchi fired the four-time Asian champions ahead three minutes into the second period, steering home a gorgeous pass from Gaku Shibasaki. Belgium may have pushed aside all in their way during the group stages but Japan also deserved to qualify from what was perhaps the most evenly spread group in terms of competition.

"We are not looking at the path", Martinez said. "And he self-analysed his play very well".

"Keep believing in Belgium".

What a World Cup this has been so far.

"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".

From the start, the Blue Samurai's tactics were clear - harass and hurry their opponents every time they were on the ball, while living off scraps.

Belgium are favored by 1.5 goals on 5dimes, another high for the round. "I expect a very tough game, a game that we'll have to be concentrated at all times because they [Japan] are capable of creating problems", Martinez said at the pre-match press conference. They know what needs to be done to win.

The comeback began just a few minutes later.

Falling behind rattled the Belgians as Hazard clattered the post moments later.

Vertonghen was guilty of some sloppy defending for Japan's opener, and he was a little fortunate to pull one back with a header that looped over goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Belgium will field a much-rested side after benching a host of regular starters in their 1-0 victory against England last week.

Japan took control with two goals within five minutes to take control, but Belgium did not give up.

Fellaini headed home Hazard's cross off a corner, and as Japan exhausted, the Red Devils began to dominate.

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.

The Manchester City man stretched his legs and fed the galloping Thomas Meunier on the right and the fullback's low cross fizzed across the goal and as Lukaku deftly let it go past him, Chadli arrived to tap in and break Japanese hearts.

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