Belgium 3-2 Japan: 5 Talking Points as Belgium mount an unbelievable comeback over Japan, World Cup 2018
Scoreline: Belgium (Jan Vertonghen 69', Marouane Fellaini 74', Nacer Chadli 90+4') 3-2 Japan (Genki Haraguchi 48', Takashi Inui 52')
Belgium and Japan played out arguably the game of the tournament so far during their FIFA World Cup round of 16 knockout clash at the Rostov Arena.
The Blue Samurais from Asia were so close to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the competition after they had taken a comfortable two-goal lead early on in the second half. Genki Haraguchi opened the scoring in the 48th minute following a swift counter-attack that completely exposed Belgium at the back.
Takashi Inui scored with a stunning effort from outside the penalty area to give Akira Nishino's men a resounding lead just four minutes later.
However, the game completely turned on its head in the last 20 minutes of regular time as the Red Devils clawed their way back into the thick of the action, thanks to some inspiring substitutions coupled with their hunger to never give up on their hopes.
Jan Vertonghen found the back of the net with his head in the 69th minute to initiate one of the greatest comebacks in World Cup history and just five minutes later, second-half substitute Marouane Fellaini restored parity between the sides after he got on the end of a delightful cross from Eden Hazard.
Nacer Chadli scored the winner with virtually the last kick of the game to break Japanese hearts and send Roberto Martinez's men through to the last eight of the competition.
Belgium will now face Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday at the Kazan Arena. Without further delay, let's take a closer look at the major talking points from the game:
#1 Resilient Japan almost pull off the big upset
In the build-up to this knockout clash between the tournament's red-hot favourites Belgium and the Asian contingent's sole representatives in Japan, it is safe to say that nobody gave the Blue Samurais any chance whatsoever.
However, Akira Nishino's men defied the odds on the night and almost went on to script one of football's greatest underdog stories before being picked apart rather mercilessly in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Despite only securing qualification to the pre-quarters from Group H with the help of their disciplinary record, Japan was not fazed by the magnitude of the occasion and came out with an intent to play brilliant attacking football.
They proved to be cagey at the back in the first half and quickly made the transition shortly after the beginning of the second forty-five to secure full control of the game with two well-taken goals.
However, their efforts were not enough in the end as Belgium pushed for a win and got the goals that would eventually break the Japanese hearts, who dared to dream right from the first kick of the ball.