In what was arguably the best game of the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup, we witnessed a thrilling fixture that had us at the edge of our seats.
Japan took an early second-half lead by scoring two back-to-back goals but those were canceled out by Vertonghen and substitutes Fellaini and Chadli.
Japan were the victims of their own actions which led to the third goal from a counter attack. Japan had all their players in Belgium’s half in the 93rd minute when they were awarded a corner but a brilliant counter-attack orchestrated by De Bruyne, modified by Lukaku and scored by Chadli saw the Japanese off.
You have to hand it over to Belgium, they were two goals down but they fought back and registered a sensational comeback at the brink of time! Japanese players are down in despair, shellshocked by the turn of events.
They came so, so close to registering Japanese history
The leading goalscorers in the group phase take on Asia’s last remaining representatives as Belgium meet Japan in the final 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia match to be hosted at Rostov Arena.
The Red Devils are aiming to reach their third World Cup quarter-final (after Mexico 1986and Brazil 2014) and equal their world finals record of four consecutive wins, set four years ago. Their unbeaten 22-match run – the longest in Belgium’s history – reflects the quality of a hugely talented side.
Japan advanced from the group phase on fair play points and are intent on winning a last-16 tie for the first time ever. They have the experience to do just that: Eiji Kawashima, Makoto Hasebe, Yuto Nagatomo and Shinji Okazaki are each set to play their 11th world finals matches, a national record. Along with Keizuke Honda, they will be looking to make up for the defeat to Paraguay at South Africa 2010, the last time that the Japanese featured in the knockout rounds.
Official FIFA Team reporter analysis
Simon Massart, with Belgium
Roberto Martinez left most of his first-choice players on the bench for the England match so they could rest and avoid suspensions. Even with a weakened side, the Belgians still recorded a fine win that buoyed morale even further and has put some pressure on the squad’s habitual starters. The Red Devils are expected to play a dynamic, offensive game against the Japanese. Should the Asians adopt the same mindset, it should make for an open, entertaining game.
Hidetoshi Suzuki, with Japan
Japan used a 4-4-2 formation in their last group match against Poland and lost 1-0. Coach Akira Nishino is likely to revert to the 4-2-3-1 system he deployed in the win over Colombia and the draw with Senegal. Attacking midfielders Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui will have important roles to play. The Japanese will look to attack down the flanks and their chances of success will hinge on how well they can supply Gaku Shibasaki.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld; Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku
Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo; Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki; Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako
(Inputs From FIFA Official)