Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Japan fall short to exit World Cup in cruellest fashion

Eden Hazard of Belgium during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium Eden Hazard and Belgium could book themselves a place in the World Cup quarter finals facing either Mexico or Brazil Credit Robbie Jay Barratt- AMA
Chelsea Rogers | 03 July, 2018, 00:38

Substitute Nacer Chadli scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Belgium came from two goals down to defeat Japan 3-2 and set up a quarter-final match against Brazil at the World Cup.

It was, and they became the first team in World Cup history to progress because of fair play, having accrued fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

Goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui in four devastating minutes had put Japan 2-0 up early in the second half to leave Belgium reeling.

Here are the possible players who can be part of Belgium team today. Vertonghen made amends for making the error that gifted Japan its opening goal.

With a lineup of superstars headlined by the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin DeBruyne, Belgium was the strong favorite heading into the match and regarded by many, as a true contender to reach the July 15 final. Belgium may have pushed aside all in their way during the group stages but Japan also deserved to qualify from what was perhaps the most evenly spread group in terms of competition. In preparation of the match, I think I have to overcome him mentally.

How Uruguay can get the best of Portugal
They soon followed it up with another 1-0 victory over a determined Saudi Arabian side with help of a Luis Suarez goal. Oddsmakers have installed Group B runner-up Portugal as the slightest of favorites over Group A victor Uruguay .

Head coach Akira Nishino, meanwhile, revealed he has held lengthy conversations with goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after some uncharacteristic mistakes in Japan's first two matches of the group stage. "In the World Cup you want to be flawless but it's about getting through, it's about winning". The semifinal would seem like a decent upgrade on the quarterfinals of the last World Cup and Euros and so far they started well. Japan and Senegal finished with four points each, had the same goal differential, scored the same number of goals and even drew 2-2, sending it to a tiebreaker being used at the World Cup for the first time: disciplinary record.

It is the first big competitive test of Martinez's two years of trying to turn a "golden generation" of individual talents with big egos at club level into a national side which can finally live up to its top-five Federation Internationale de Football Association world ranking.

Then Inui - operating on the other flank and who has just signed for Spanish side Betis - showed what he can do with a magnificent strike from outside the area after being teed up by Shinji Kagawa.

De Bruyne advanced the ball with a lovely push, making a ideal lead pass to Jan Vertonghen with room to run.

Belgium completed the biggest comeback of the World Cup on Monday, scoring the final three goals to fight back from a 2-0 deficit against Japan to advance to the quarterfinals.

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