Japan can make history against Belgium

Belgium's Eden Hazard Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne

Belgium's Eden Hazard Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne

Nacer Chaldi capped a comeback from a two-goal deficit when he scored in the fourth minute of injury time to give Belgium a 3-2 victory over Japan on Monday and a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

After beating England 1-0 in Kaliningrad to top Group G, Belgium booked a meeting with the Samurai Blue in Rostov-on-Don, with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs.

The Japanese have endured stinging criticism in the aftermath of their final group game, when they ran the clock down in a 1-0 defeat to Poland, squeezing into the knockout rounds to advance at Senegal's expense by virtue of having picked up fewer yellow cards.

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

However, Jan Vertonghen pulled a goal back for Belgium in the 69th minute with a magnificent header from the far side, which looped over the keeper before nestling in the back of the net. They don't have an Eden Hazard or a Dries Merterns to make the spectacular play, or even the consistent play that an elite World Cup team needs.

Striker Romelu Lukaku has claimed four with two against both Tunisia and Panama in the group stages.

Brazil will take on Belgium in Kazan on Friday at 9pm local time after France's clash with Uruguay. "I don't think there will be big surprises when we face each other", Martinez had said on the eve of the match. Japan drew the game against Senegal by 2-2 in the second match, and lost to Poland by 1-0 in the third match.

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Nonetheless, for all the love Belgium have gotten in recent years, they have advanced beyond the quarterfinals only once - and that was back in 1986.

However, it would arguably be the biggest shock of the tournament so far - even more astonishing than Germany's elimination - if the Japanese eliminated the side now ranked third in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association.

Nishino - only appointed in April after the controversial sacking of veteran coach Vahid Halilhodzic - deserves credit for taking Japan so close against one of the finest sets of players around.

The PSG superstar scored shortly after half-time to put Brazil ahead and set up Roberto Firmino late on to double their lead.

The one and only Marouane Fellaini came on in the second half as a substitute.

Belgium came into that tournament on the back of being eliminated in the first round of 1998 World Cup as well as the 2000 Euro Cup (which they co-hosted), while Japan entered this tournament as the co-hosts of 2002 World Cup along with South Korea.

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