Nacer Chadli’s 94th-minute winner completed a remarkable comeback as Belgium beat Japan 3-2 to book a World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil.
After a goalless first half, Japan struck twice in seven minutes following the interval to take full control of a gripping last-16 tie on Monday.
Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui scored stunning goals as Japan looked set to reach its first World Cup quarterfinal in history.
But, instead, Belgium became the first team to come from two goals down to win in a World Cup knockout game since 1970 when West Germany downed England. It will now face five-time winner Brazil.
Jan Vertonghen’s looping header beat goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and Belgium’s aerial power started to tell when Marouane Fellaini thumped home Eden Hazard’s brilliant left-wing cross.
Keisuke Honda almost beat Thibaut Courtois with a free-kick in injury-time, but a clinical Belgium counterattack, which ended in Thomas Meunier setting up Chadli for a simple finish, broke Japanese hearts.
In the first half, Belgium failed to make the most of its possession and numerous goal-scoring chances. Such was Belgium’s dominance that it could potentially have even got out of Japan’s sight by half-time.
The best opportunity of the opening period came in the 25th minute when Romelu Lukaku, from just yards out, failed to get his right boot to a quality cross from the right from Dries Mertens.
With Japan defending deep, Belgium’s attackers were often forced to shoot from outside the area.
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