FIFA 2018: Blazing Belgium to face classy Brazil in quarter finals

Rajat Kain

Rostov-on-Don :  Belgium's Eden Hazard, left, challenges for the ball in front of Japan's Maya Yoshida during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. AP/ PTI

Rostov-on-Don : Belgium’s Eden Hazard, left, challenges for the ball in front of Japan’s Maya Yoshida during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. AP/ PTI

Belgium stormed their way into the quarter finals of the World Cup after coming from behind and beating Japan 3-2 in their Round of 16 match. The Japanese side took a lead soon into the second half scoring two goals but in one of the most impressive counter-attack in the tournament so far the European side first levelled by the 74th minute and then hit home the winner in the dying seconds.

All three Belgian goals came within 25 minutes of each other, in what was one of the most spectacular finishes to a game in this tournament.

The Europeans will now clash with Brazil in the quarter finals on Friday, which defeated Mexico 2-0 in their Round of 16 game.

Japan took the lead in the 48th minute through Genki Haraguchi’s strike 3 minutes into the second half. Four minutes later, Takashi Inui scored the second for the Asians, which looked like enough to push them past the finishing line.

But defender Jan Vertonghen tucked away a looping header in the 69th minute and the tall-framed Marouane Fellaini scored the equaliser five minutes later, 10 minutes after beig sent in as a substitute.

With the game looking to be headed into the extra time, the Belgians broke free after a Japanese corner kick landed into the safe hands of Belgian keeper Thibout Courtois who then rolled it forward from where striker Romelu Lukaku dummied to free Chadli who slammed home the winner.

Belgium also became the first side to recover from a two-goal deficit to win a World Cup knockout match since Germany beat England 3-2 after extra time in Mexico in 1970.

Samara :  Brazil's Neymar, left, jumps for the ball with Mexico's Edson Alvarez during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. AP/ PTI

Samara : Brazil’s Neymar, left, jumps for the ball with Mexico’s Edson Alvarez during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. AP/ PTI

In other Round of 16 match, Brazil advanced to the quarters finals of the World Cup for the seventh straight time after beating stubborn Mexico 2-0. Star forward Neymar opened the scoring for Brazil in made and comfortably set-up the second goal end the tournament run of impressive looking Mexico.

Neymar led all the way, scoring a goal, setting up another and making and troubling the Mexican defence line throughout the match as Brazil cruised its way to the quarter finals. Barring one close attempt at the Brazilian goal, Mexico lagged behind in playmaking.

After a goalless first half, the Paris Saint Germaine forward opened scoring in the 51st Minute.

And just before the close of play, he was again at his best setting up a second goal running through the Mexican defence before coolly passing it to Roberto Firmino, who slotted it in to take a unbeatable 2-0 lead in the 88th Minute.

Mexico, who had a good outing in the World Cup after handing a shock 1-0 defeat to reigning Champions Germany, started off well in their characteristic stubborn style with goal keeper Ochoa notching several saves.

But as the game progressed, the Central Americans looked to playing a catching up act often losing possession near the Brazilian post.

Meanwhile, Brazil will be without defensive midfielder Casemiro, who picked up his second booking in Monday’s game.