Russia 2018: Belgium in quarter-finals with last gasp win against Japan

Author: Graphic.com.gh
 Belgium fought hard to overcome Japan
Belgium fought hard to overcome Japan

 

Belgium completed a sensational comeback to beat Japan with a last minute gasp to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Russia.

Roberto Martinez's side were trailing 2-0 when he brought on Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli on the 65th minute, and Fellaini scored the equaliser before Chadli netted a 94th-minute winner.

They now face Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Japan looked on their way to a famous win in Rostov and recording yet another stunning win in this competition, after Genki Haraguchi ran onto Gaku Shibasaki's long ball, which Jan Vertonghen should have cut out, to open the scoring.

Clash of the captains: Japan's Makoto Hasebe against Eden Hazard

 

Takashi Inui's 25-yard strike made it 2-0 and looked set to take the Asian side to their first ever quarter-finals.

Belgium's Premier League stars - their golden generation - had put in a disappointing performance and Martinez turned to the oft-ridiculed Fellaini and West Brom winger Chadli in his hour of need.

Their fortunes changed after that as Vertonghen scored a looping header to get them back into the game.

Fellani levelled 2-2 for Belgium

 

Fellaini then headed in Hazard's cross to level before Chadli converted Thomas Meunier's pass to finish off a flowing move and help the Red Devils avoid being the latest victims of a World Cup of shocks.

Belgium become the first team to fight back from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout game since Germany against England in 1970.

They will feel a huge amount of spirit building after this fightback - and also the fact that their last defeat was Martinez's first game in charge, against Spain in September 2016.

Their last two tournaments - the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 - have both come to an end at the quarter-final stage. The Red Devils, who have never won a major tournament, will be desperate to go at least one step further this time - but there is one huge problem

 

The ninth last-minute winner of this World Cup - match stats

  • Belgium are the first team to come from two or more goals down to win a World Cup knockout stage match within 90 minutes since Portugal beat DPR Korea in the 1966 quarter-final (0-3 down, 5-3 win).
  • Belgium have reached the World Cup quarter-finals in successive tournaments for the first time.
  • Belgium have never kept a clean sheet in their 12 World Cup knockout round matches, shipping 28 goals in total.
  • Japan have scored six goals at Russia 2018, their highest ever tally in a single World Cup tournament.
  • There were just four minutes and 16 seconds between Japan's two goals, and just four minutes and 30 seconds between Belgium's brace to level the scores.
  • There have now been nine 90th-minute winning goals in the 2018 World Cup. There were just 10 in the previous five tournaments combined.
  • Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 19 goals in his 18 games for Belgium under Roberto Martinez, scoring 10 and assisting nine.