Stoppage time winner completes Belgium comeback
Nacer Chadli’s goal seconds before the final whistle led Belgium to a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Japan on Monday at the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don.
Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini also scored for Belgium, who will meet Brazil in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui helped Japan to a 2-0 lead.
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Romelu Lukaku looked strong out of the gates, creating enough space to earn a pair of corner kicks in the first 20 minutes.
One of the few balls Japan got to the doorstep was bungled between the legs of Thibaut Courtois, but he collected it before any of the Samurai Blue could pounce on it.
Japan opened the second half with a history-making vigor, scoring twice inside of five minutes.
A misplay from Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen allowed Haraguchi to dribble on goal, and he acted like a cutback to his left foot was coming before pushing a right footed shot beyond the reach of Courtois.
Then it was Inui’s turn, and what he did was nothing short of gorgeous.
Given some room to maneuver, Shinji Kagawa and Inui worked outside the 18 before the latter unleashed an arrow toward goal. Courtois could not reach it.
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Lukaku just missed turning a header inside the far post in the 62nd minute as Belgium tried to get on the board and put pressure on the upstart Samurai Blue.
Vertonghen got a bit of redemption in the 70th minute, when his headed cross back across goal looped over the keeper and into the goal. A pass? Most likely. A goal? Certainly.
Fellaini’s goal, five minutes after entering the game, made it 2-2. It was a trademark powerful header from the Manchester United man.
Eiji Kawashima made a pair of fantastic saves for Japan as the game moved toward the final whistle of regulation, and Courtois answered with a beauty of his own in the 90th.
The Red Devils completed the comeback in the fourth minute of stoppage time, cued up by Kevin De Bruyne. Thomas Meunier cut a square ball through the 18 that Lukaku dummied for Chadli to slide home.