It was soccer at its best. A Japanese hurricane in the beginning of second half, a Belgian blitzkrieg in the middle and a match winner in the last minute sums up a splendid 3-2 win for Belgium against Japan in the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Monday.
A superb display of attacking soccer by the Japanese and the ruthless elegance of the Belgians had the soccer fans on the edge of their seats throughout the second half as it turned out to be a game of tantalising turns.
At one stage it looked as if Japanese would carry the day with two goals they scored in the beginning of the second half. Then it was the turn of the European team that in a run of ruthless aggression not only restored parity with two goals in five minutes but also managed to get a clincher eight seconds from the final whistle to reserve a berth in the quarter finals.
Of the earlier five encounters between the two countries, Belgium won only one, lost two and drew the remaining two. If one looks at World Cup records, the only match between the two had ended in a 2-2 draw. And today it was 3-2 for Belgium. What a game.
Belgium has made the last eight round for the third time. This World Cup has bene special for the Red Devils as they won all three games and scored maximum number of goals – nine – to qualify for the knock out round.
It was after change of ends that Genki Haraguchi set the stands on fire with a brilliant goal. Inui had the Japanese fans in a rupture with a screamer that came within four minutes of the first goal. On a pass from Kangwa, Inui rocketed a powerful 25-metre shot in the right bottom corner of the goal to the great dismay of the Europeans. It was his second goal of the World Cup.Two up in the 52nd minute, Japanese looked in full command of the game.
Egged by its supporters, Belgians were desperate to do something as otherwise they would have been damned as belonging to the folding generation. It was under this crowd pressure and urge to do something that saw Jan Vertonghen making a lobbying header from an unimaginable angle to surprise the Japanese defence.It all happened in the 69th minute.
Five minutes later Marouanne Fellaini had a beautiful header that found the net and brought the teams at par.
Now the battle started for the match winner as both teams were keen to finish the game without taking it into extra time. Here again, the Belgium was successful. omega Lukaku, from whom much was expected, dunked to pave way for Nacer Chadli to make it 3-2 in the fourth minute of the injury time to bring the game to an exciting climax.
It was also the end of Asian challenge in the FIFA World Cup 2018.