World Cup: Belgium's great escape as they avoid Japan shock to qualify for quarter finals
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Belgium has qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Cup in a last-minute victory against Japan.
While Belgium had impressed during the first phase of the tournament, with a win against England despite fielding a team composed of substitutes, the team was dominated by Japan, who came second of group H.
The first half started to show the Belgian distress against a Japanese team determined to win.
Although, fans had to wait until the second half for Japan to take the opportunity to score after exploiting a weakness in the Belgian defence. Haraguchi fired a strong shot out of Belgian keeper's, Courtois’ reach at the 48th minute.
The Japanese didn’t leave it there. They reinforced their will to win by scoring less than 5 minutes after their first goal. After a pass from Kagawa, Inui shot in the bottom right of the net, offering Japan the lead in the second half.
At that time, it seemed everything was set in this game, the losing team was not responding back, barely keeping the ball to themselves.
It was thanks to two changes in the Belgian side, Fellaini substituting for Mertens and Chadli replacing Carrasco that revived the team. This led to the defender Verthongen to score at the 69th minutes offering a renewed hope to Belgium.
Five minutes later, it is Fellaini, who was on the pitch for less than 10 minutes, who scored with his head after a pass from Hazard, equalising with less than 20 minutes left on the clock.
With both teams eager to win, it seemed like the game was heading to extra-time. Yet, in the dying moments of the 90 minutes, a team effort allows the Belgium team to get near the net and Chadli to score, securing victory and a one-way ticket to the quarter-finals for Belgium.
Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons.
Image shows Belgium's Marouane Fellaini (right).