Japan’s dream of playing in its first ever World Cup quarter-finals has been blown away after Belgium came from behind to score three superlative goals against the Asians.
The Japanese team was up 2-0 but Belgium scored a last-gasp winner to run away 3-2 and set up a World Cup quarter-final against Brazil.
The match looked set for extra-time after goals from Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini cancelled out efforts from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui.
Belgium unleashed its world-class quality and ripped off three superb goals, the last coming in the dying seconds of regulation through Nacer Chadli, to crush Japan’s hopes on Monday in Rostov-on-Don.
The victory avoided a demoralizing defeat for Belgium’s Golden Generation of players that has long promised a great performance at a major championship and now seems poised to deliver it, at least if it can get past mighty Brazil in the quarterfinal on Friday.
Brazil had earlier subdued Mexico 2-0 in the other quarter-final encounter of the day.
Neymar and Roberto Firmino sealed victory for Brazil as they progressed to the final eight.