2018 World Cup: Belgium Rallies From 2-0 Down, Stuns Japan In Epic Comeback
on Jul 05, 2018 06:40 PM EDT
Belgium added another reason why the 2018 FIFA World Cup can be considered as the most unpredictable edition in the history of the event.
Belgium looked on their way to absorbing a monumental upset to Japan in their round-of-16 showdown. However, the European squad managed to score a come-from-behind 3-2 win over their Asian counterparts to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Both teams failed to hit the mark in the first 45 minutes of the match, but Japan unleashed a huge rally in the first seven minutes of the second half. Genki Haraguchi broke the silence in the 48th minute. Shinji Kagawa then sent the ball into the bottom right corner four minutes later to give Japan a 2-0 lead.
Belgium Refuses To Go Down
Belgium found themselves in an unfamiliar territory because they have never trailed in the tournament before the match. Japan looked poised to eliminate one of the darkhorse teams heading into the knockout stage, but the Belgians have other plans in mind.
Jan Vertonghen started the huge rally for Belgium when he scored off a header from a difficult angle following a corner in the 69th minute of the match. Marouane Fellaini then struck the equalizer with a beautiful header off a cross from Eden Hazard five minutes later.
Romelu Lukaku Makes A Huge Impact Off The Ball
Most fans were expecting a goal from Romelu Lukaku. The 25-year-old striker failed to find the mark against Japan, but he actually made the winning play happen for Belgium.
Lukaku drew the attention of Japanese defender in the 94th minute of the match, giving Thomas Meunier a lot of breathing space towards the box. Lukaku continued to pressure the defense, which gave Nacer Chadli a clear path to the goal.
Meunier recognized the opportunity and flipped the ball to Chadli, who netted the game-winner to complete the remarkable comeback against the stunned Japanese side, who surprised a lot of fans with their performance this year. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez had nothing but praises for his squad for showing mental toughness in the knockout match.
"There are not many games you can overcome 2-0," Martinez said via The New York Times. "It's down to the personality, focus, the never-give-up attitude of players."
With the win, Belgium moved on to the next round where they will face Brazil. The Neymar-led Brazilian squad advanced to the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Mexico. Neymar and Firmino scored the goals for Brazil, which are considered as strong favorites to win the title this year.