Brazil will face Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup as Roberto Martinez’s side came from 2-0 down to beat Japan 3-2, yesterday.
Nacer Chadli’s 94th-minute winner completed a sensational comeback as Belgium beat Japan 3-2 to book a World Cup quarter-final against Brazil.
After a goalless first half, Japan struck twice in seven minutes following the interval to take full control of a gripping last-16 tie in Rostov-on-Don, yesterday.
Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui scored stunners as Japan looked set to reach the first World Cup quarter-final in their history.
But, instead, Belgium became the first team to come from two goals down to win in a World Cup knockout game since 1970 and will now face five-time winners Brazil on Friday.
Jan Vertonghen’s looping header somehow beat goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and Belgium’s aerial power started to tell when Marouane Fellaini thumped home Eden Hazard’s brilliant left-wing cross.
Keisuke Honda almost beat Thibaut Courtois with a free-kick in injury time but a clinical Belgium counter-attack, which ended in Thomas Meunier setting up Chadli for a simple finish, broke Japanese hearts.
Belgium did not record a shot until the 17th minute as Axel Witsel and Vincent Kompany had shots blocked while Inui headed at Courtois at the other end as Japan – who reverted to their XI from the first two group games – sent a warning about their counter-attacking threat.
And a moment of madness from Courtois almost handed Japan the lead just before half-time, the goalkeeper spilling a tame shot from Yuya Osako but recovering to claw the ball back.
Japan had never scored a goal in the World Cup’s knockout rounds but they ended their wait in the 48th minute through Haraguchi.
Another Belgium move broke down on the edge of the Japan box and Roberto Martinez’s men fell victim to a rapid break, Gaku Shibasaki slipping a pass through to Haraguchi, who rifled a stunning shot across Courtois.
Eden Hazard struck the post from Dries Mertens’ pass as Belgium almost levelled immediately.
But within four minutes of taking the lead Japan were 2-0 up, Inui’s strike perhaps even eclipsing Haraguchi’s outstanding opener.
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