Subs save the day for Belgium!!!!
The two Belgium subs, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli, saved the day for Belgium in the end. Marouane Fellaini scored the equalizer less than ten minutes after coming onto the pitch, and Nacer Chadli scored the game-winner right before the final whistle. And so Belgium escapes with the 3-2 victory.
And that's it!!!!! Belgium wins 3-2!!!
And the referee blows the whistle right off the restart and Belgium comes all the way back from down 2-0 in the second half to win 3-2!!!!! Belgium advances to play Brazil on Friday in the quarterfinals.
BELGIUM TAKES THE LEAD!!!!!
An amazing counter attack by Belgium off the Japan corner give the Red Devils the lead. Kevin De Bruyne makes a long run from his own end, sends it wide to Thomas Meunier who then crosses it across the penatly area right to the left foot of Nacer Chadli who puts it past a diving Eiji Kawashima. Romelu Lukaku should get half an assist for an amazing dummy move to let the ball go past him to Chadil.
Courtois saves Belgium again!!!
A brilliant strike off the free kick by Keisuke Honda sends Thibaut Courtois diving to his right to punch the ball away from goal for another Japan corner.
Foul by Kompany gives Japan a set piece chance
A foul by Vincent Kompany on Yuya Osako gives Japan a free kick chance in the attacking half as time winds down in stoppage time.
Stoppage Time added
Four minutes of stoppage time has been added to the match.
Courtois saves Belgium
A cross by Japan is deflected by Marouane Fellaini toward goal but Thibaut Courtois recovers and punches it wide of net for a Japan corner kick.
Offsides ends Belgium attack
Marouane Fellaini is called offsides as he goes for the rebound off a shot by Jan Vertonghen that came from outside the box.
Japan makes a pair of changes
Japan's manager Akira Nishino is making a change, sending on Keisuke Honda and Hotaru Yamaguchi to replace Gaku Shibasaki and Genki Haraguchi.
Genki Haraguchi Keisuke Honda
Gaku Shibasaki Hotaru Yamaguchi
Lukaku's header off target
Another Lukaku header goes wide of target. A nice cross by Nacer Chadli from the left wing is right at the edge of the six yard box and finds the head of Romelu Lukaku but his header is off target and goes out for a goal kick.
Japan nearly gets the lead right back
A poor cross field pass is nearly intercepted by Japan, and they do recover a loose ball in the attacking half. A shot by Japan is blocked in the box by a sliding Belgium defender and then the cross is too long and goes out.
AND WE ARE TIED!!!!!!
A brilliant cross by Eden Hazard from the left wing is headed into the back of the net by Marouane Fellaini from the center of the box. We are tied 2-2 now with just over 15 minutes to go in regulation!!!!
Assist by - Eden Hazard
Japan gets another corner
A dangerous cross from the left wing by Yuto Nagatomo is blocked by Belgium out of play for another corner kick.
BELGIUM GETS ONE BACK!!!!! 2-1 Japan
WOW!!!!! Jan Vertonghen gives Belgium hope when he finds a horrible clearance on the left side of the box and heads it back across the goal and into the right side netting for the goal!!!!!
Yoshida saves the shutout
A great low cross from Thomas Meunier is headed right to the feet of Romelu Lukaku but Maya Yoshida slides right in front to block the chance.
Japan's second corner
Japan gains a second corner kick, but cross in is too strong and goes directly out for a Belgium goal kick.
Belgium makes two changes
Belgium's manager Roberto Martinez has made two changes now, sending on Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli for Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco.
Yannick Carrasco Nacer Chadli
Dries Mertens Marouane Fellaini
Japan nearly adds on
A great give and go by Japan down the right wing nearly gives Japan a 3-0 but a kick by Thibaut Courtois blocks the cross out and the deflection is then headed out of bounds by Japan to give Belgium a breather.
Lukaku's header goes just wide
A great cross by Dries Mertens from the right wing finds the head of Romelu Lukaku but Lukaku can't get it on goal and it goes wide of goal.
And Japan looking for more
A cross from the right wing is headed out by a scrambling Belgium defense and gives Japan their first corner kick of the match.
GOAL!!!!! 2-0 Japan
And just like that Japan leads now 2-0!!!!! Some nice footwork and control by Japan leads to a shot from Takashi Inui from outside the box and blasts it past a diving Thibaut Courtois to give Japan a stunning 2-0 lead.
Assist by - Shinji Kagawa
Cross just a bit too strong
The cross from the right wing by Thomas Meunier is just a bit too strong and close to Eiji Kawashima as the Japan keeper races off his line to catch the ball before Romelu Lukaku can get there.
But Belgium is coming right back with pace. Eden Hazard brings down a cross at the top of the box and fires a shot toward goal but it clangs off the right post and bounces clear for Japan. Oh so close to equalizing the match.
GOAL!!!!! Japan leads 1-0
A miscue by Jan Vertonghen springs Genki Haraguchi down the right wing and slips a shot far post past a diving Thibaut Courtois to give Japan a 1-0 lead early in the second half.
Second Half underway
And the second half has started!!! Japan starts with possession, and neither team made any changes to their lineup coming out of the locker room.
Mertens' shot is caught easily as the first half ends.
Romelu Lukaku brings down a ball just outside the box and taps it to Dries Mertens who fires a curling ball toward the right corner of the net. However Eiji Kawashima dives and makes the catch. And the referee has blown the whistle to end the first half.
Japan is nearly given a gift
A low cross by Yuto Nagatomo is flicked on toward goal by Yuya Osako but there isn't enough pace to get by Thibaut Courtois, though it looks like Courtois took his eye off the ball for a spilt second and it nearly trickles past him and into the net. But Courtois recovers and grabs the ball before anyone can react.
Yellow Card for Shibasaki
A yellow card has been shown to Gaku Shibasaki after a hard foul on Eden Hazard in the attacking half.
YELLOW CARD: JAPAN
Fifth Belgium Corner
A cross from outside the box headed toward Romelu Lukaku is blocked away for another Belgium corner kick. The Red Devils have five corners now, while Japan has zero.
Witsel's shot goes well high
Eden Hazard's shot is blocked and bounces back out of the box. Belgium is able to keep possession and the ball comes to Axel Witsel outside the box but his shot is much too high of goal.
Belgium's defense holds
A brilliant cross is brought down by Takashi Inui inside the box but he can't corral it enough to get a shot off or a cross to a advancing teammate as Belgium's defense races back and ends the attack.
Courtois' first save
A nice move by Japan down the left wing springs their attack, and a cross from Yuto Nagatomo is headed toward goal by Japan but Thibaut Courtois is right there and makes the clean save.
Foul ends Belgium's attack
A foul by Thomas Meunier at the edge of the box ends Belgium's attack. The Red Devils have controlled much of the match's last ten or so minutes, constantly looking for Romelu Lukaku in the center of the box and playing off him.
Hazard's blast blocked by Kawashima
Eden Hazard finds a loose ball outside the box and fires one toward the net but Eiji Kawashima sees it clearly and punches it wide.
That was close
A brilliant cross by Dries Mertens right to the top of the six-yard-box finds Romelu Lukaku but the Manchester United striker can't corral the cross and Eiji Kawashima is able to scramble off his line and jump on the ball to end the threat.
Third Belgium Corner
Kevin De Bruyne sends the third Belgium corner low into the middle of the box but Dries Mertens misses on the wide open shot and the ball is quickly cleared back to midfield by Japan.
Belgium beginning to find their footing
Belgium over the past few minutes has found their footing and has begun to push up against the Japan defense, gaining another corner following a deflected Romelu Lukaku shot from the edge of the box.
Another Belgium corner
Romelu Lukaku brings down a cross from Thomas Meunier inside the box but can't fully turn to face goal and his shot is deflected wide for another corner.
Belgium gains first corner
Belgium finally gets some sustained possession in the attacking half and is rewarded with a corner kick off a deflected shot by Axel Witsel from outside the box.
De Bruyne's cross just too long
Kevin De Bruyne gathers a ball in the attacking half and loops in a cross to the left of goal, aiming for a running Dries Mertens but it is just a bit too strong and goes out for a goal kick.
Japan controlling pace so far
It has been Japan and not Belgium who has been controlling the pace so far in the match. Belgium hasn't been able to fully break out of their own end, and has turned the ball over several times in the attacking half.
Japan nearly draws first blood
A turnover right outside Belgium's own box gives Japan a brilliant chance right at the start. But Shinji Kagawa pulls a left-footed shot from outside the box wide right of net.
And we are underway
The referee Malang Diedhiou has blown the whistle, and we are underway. Belgium begins with possession moving left to right. Belgium is wearing all red kits while Japan is wearing all blue.
Lineup and Formation: Japan
Japan's manager Akira Nishino will send out his side in a 4-5-1 formation in front of keeper Eiji Kawashima. Hiroki Sakai, Gen Shoji, Maya Yoshida and Yuto Nagatomo make up the defense. Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui man the midfield behind the lone striker Yuya Osako.
Lineup and Formation: Belgium
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez will send out his side in a 3-4-3 formation in front of keeper Thibaut Courtois. Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen make up the defense, Thomas Meunier, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel and Yannick Carrasco are the midfield and up top will be Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard as the strikers.
How they got here: Japan
Japan advanced to the Round of 16 by finishing 2nd in Group H behind Colombia, even though Japan defeated Colombia 2-1 back on June 19th. Japan then drew with Senegal 2-2 and lost to Poland 1-0. Japan finished ahead of Senegal despite finishing with the same amount of points due to FIFA's fair play rules.
How they got here: Belgium
Belgium raced through the group stage, sweeping their group with victories over Panama 3-0, Tunisia 5-2 and England 1-0. Romelu Lukaku leads the way for the Red Devils with four goals in group play. With Germany, Portugal, Argentina and Spain all out, Belgium has vaulted into one of the favorites to hoist the World Cup trophy along with Brazil, France and Croatia.
Excitment Galore in Round of 16
Excluding Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico, the remaining Round of 16 matches have all been extremely exciting and thrilling to watch, including two matches going all the way to penalty shootouts. Host country Russia defeated Spain yesterday in penatlies, and Croatia outlasted Denmark as well.
Welcome to Belgium vs. Japan
In Rostov-On-Don, Belgium will face Japan in a Round of 16 match-up, the sixth Round of 16 match to be played at the World Cup. The winner of this match will play Brazil on July 6th. Brazil defeated Mexico 2-0 earlier today.
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