Nacer Chadli was the hero for Belgium as Roberto Martinez’s side came from 2-0 down to knock Japan out of the World Cup.
The European side, strong favourites for this clash, found themselves 2-0 down early in the second half through goals from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui. Belgium had been pedestrian up to that point were now suddenly starting defeat and an early exit square in the face.
Midway through the first half, Martinez sent Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini on, and they would prove to have a contribution in this match. Jan Vertonghen pulled one back with a looping header with 20 minutes remaining, before Fellaini levelled it up with another header five minutes later.
Things looked to be heading towards extra time, and a Japanese corner deep injury time didn’t really hint at much danger way. However, Thibaut Courtois caught the resulting kick and began a threatening Belgium attack on the break.
Kevin De Bruyne charge through the centre before playing it out wide for Thomas Meunier, the PSG man played it low across the box and, after a Romelu Lukaku stepover, Chadli slotted it home to break Japanese hearts.
What a counter attack ????
— Lucas Leiva (@LucasLeiva87) July 2, 2018
3-2 to Belgium the final score, with Martinez’s side now going through to face Brazil in the quarter-finals. A fantastic match in a World Cup that continues to deliver.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) July 2, 2018
Unreal. Feel so sorry for Japan but fair play to Belgium.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) July 2, 2018
I regret to inform you I’m going to spend the rest of my life watching this World Cup on DVD.
— Kristian Walsh (@Kristian_Walsh) July 2, 2018
— PB (@patrikberger73) July 2, 2018
What an ending to a magnificent World Cup game. Total sickener for superb Japan but credit Belgium for keeping their nerve when panic could have set in. This World Cup just gets better.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) July 2, 2018