3-2! Belgium See Off Japan FIFA World Cup

by Samuel Abasi Posted on July 2nd, 2018

Belgium will face Brazil in the quarterfinals on Friday July 6th in Kazan, after beating Japan 3-2 on Monday in the Round of 16 at the  Rostov Arena in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia.  Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 in an earlier game on Monday.

Goals from Midfielders Genki Haraguchi on 48 minutes from a tight angle and then a second from long-range by Takashi Inui four minutes later gave Japan a surprise lead against the Belgian Red Devils.

Belgium scored two quick goals to equalize at 2-2 against Japan in the World Cup round-of-16 game.

Jan Vertonghen scored with a looping header in the 69th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. Japan was unable to clear the ball and Vertonghen angled his floating header from outside the left of the penalty area over the head of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Substitute Marouane Fellaini’s header to Eden Hazard’s cross from the left in the 74th made it 2-2.

Belgium scored in the dying seconds to advance to a World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil. Nacer Chadli finished off a length-of-the-field movement late in stoppage time for the clincher on Monday night at the Rostov Arena. 3-2

It’s the first time since 1970 that a team has rallied to win a knockout game from 2-0 down at a World Cup, when Germany FR beat England 3-2. It has only happened six times in history, including ‘The Miracle of Berne’ Final of 1954, when Germany FR beat Hungary.

Belgium was one of only three teams to win all three group games and topped the tournament scoring list with nine goals in the group stage. Japan narrowly scraped through to the knockout stage in the tightest of tiebreakers against Senegal, after both teams finished level in Group G, because it had a better disciplinary record at the tournament.

Japan has now lost in the round of 16 three times and has never reached the World Cup quarterfinals.

“That’s what happens in the World Cup. It was a test of character and a test of the team. It tells you everything about this group of players.” Roberto Martinez, Belgium coach said at the post match press conference.

“The reality is we went 2-0 down and you have to find solutions, you have to find a reaction, but what you need more than anything is the desire and togetherness of a group of players who are desperate to perform. If you look at the stats there are not many games where you can come back from 2-0 down at a World Cup. I think this is down to the personality, to the focus, to the desire, to the never-give-up attitude of the players and almost the belief of the players when the came on. Doing it within the 90 minutes was an incredible achievement.” Roberto Martinez added.

“We wanted to win it. Our team is strong enough and against Belgium we could at least match them, I believed. There were different plans in my mind and of course we started off very well but at the end, right at the end, to have conceded a goal like that was not expected. When we were 2-0 up and I didn’t change my players, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities. We were to some extent, controlling the ball and controlling the game, but at that point, Belgium upped their game when they really had to. At that point, when the free-kick and corner-kick were taken, we wanted to decide and finish the match. Of course at that point I thought we might go to extra-time but I did not expect that kind of super counter-attack and my players didn’t expect that in a few seconds the ball would be carried into our half and it would decide the match.” Akira Nishino, Japan coach said.

“Four years ago, in Brazil we did not make it to the Round of 16 and the whole of Japanese football remembered how we lost against Colombia in the third match. For the last four years we have been training hard and of course we faced Colombia in the first match. We were all determined to take revenge. And about eight years ago, in the Round of 16, we went to extra-time and penalties, where we lost, therefore we were determined to go through to the next stage. I wanted our team to have a different mentality to the ones we have had in the past and I think we succeeded in that. But maybe there was still something missing, so four years from now we would like to come back.” Akira Nishino added.

“We were thinking it was going to be like two years ago against Wales [at UEFA EURO 2016], but we were also thinking if we can score goals the game is on. We have players that can change a game, we brought players from the bench who made the difference, so today we are just happy to have won and have gone through to the quarter-finals. The reaction we showed today was great and maybe it is this type of match we needed for the future as we could have been eliminated but we are into the quarter-finals. When it comes to the match on Friday, it is going to be magnificent because playing against Brazil is always amazing as a football player. We are going to rest really well and going to really try to win that match.” Man of the Match, Eden Hazard said.

A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.

The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups proceeded to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.

Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.  The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The  11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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