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Belgium Beat Japan 3-2 To Reach Quarter-Finals

Belgium Beat Japan 3-2 To Reach Quarter-Finals

Thomas Meunier, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker are on yellow cards for Belgium and would miss the last eight with another booking, while Japan's Kawashima, Hasebe, Tomoaki Makino and Takashi Inui are in the same position. "It tells you everything about this group of players", Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.

It was, and they became the first team in World Cup history to progress because of fair play, having accrued fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

A last-minute goal Nacer Chadli capped a remarkable fightback for Belgium as they dumped Japan out of the World Cup in thrilling, not to mention historic, fashion .

This is only the third time the Blue Samurai have reached the knockout stage of the World Cup, after 2002 and 2010. Its golden generation has high hopes for a deep run, and to continue its time in Russian Federation it will have to get by the surprise Samurai Blue.

Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was called into action for the first time when Eden Hazard unleashed a left-footed drive which he tipped around the post on 28 minutes, and his flap at the resultant corner went unpunished as nobody could get on the end of Vincent Kompany's full-stretch cutback. Inui headed at Courtois, who shortly after allowed a deflection by Yuya Osako through his legs before recovering, although replays showed the striker was probably offside.




Again, the goal wasn't the prettiest Belgium have scored this tournament, but was a sign of their ability to mix things up when their Plan A isn't working.

The Japanese were ahead soon after the break, though, when Haraguchi beat the offside trap and ran into the area to beat Courtois with a cross-shot in the 48th minute.

Belgium very almost responded instantly, with Eden Hazard rocketing a shot off the post just after the reset.

Fellow sub Chadli grabbed a dramatic victor deep into stoppage time in the 94th minute finishing off a devastating counter-attack to break Japanese hearts.

The keeper then launched the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, who made a beeline through the field before finding Meunier, whose cross was met by Chadli for the victor.

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