Belgium Survived Japanese Scare By The Skin of The Teeth
Belgium 3(Jan Ventogen, Marcuani Fellaini , Nacer Chaddi): Japan 2 ( Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Inui)
Another drama unfolded. Another favorite was on the verge of falling. Another battle ship was about to be sinking. But curtain dropped with them saved on the verge.
In a breath taking and fascinating contest, Not one or two 5, as many as five spectacular goals were scored in the second half. One of this tournament favorites Belgium just managed to over power brave Japan scoring three quick goals in the last 25 minutes after going down 0-2 early in the second half. . Belgium won 3-2 in what many would agree the best match seen so far in this world cup and one of the best ever.
Five goals were scored and surprisingly none from Lukaku or Hazard two of goal hungry sharks in world soccer .
After a barren first half Japan surged ahead 2-0 early in the second half. Three minutes into the second half fast Japanese attack caught Belgium defense napping. A lovely strike from Genki Harguchi found the net surprising all. Japan scored the second goal through another smart move and brilliant strike from Takashi Inui in the 52 th minute. Belgium looked thoroughly shaken. But they showed great character unleashing their A game. A freak goal from a dropping header of Jan Ventongenin the 69th minutes of match reduced the margin 1-2. His header from way outside the box dipped at the last minute at the far corner of the net bemusing Japanese custodian. Belgian hungry sharks kept searching and found the equalizer through another header from Marcuani Fellaini at 74th minute off a free kick taking much of air of Japanese sail 2- 2. Japan also kept proving for the winner till the dying minutes. They moved all their players up in search of a winner from a last minute corner. Japanese could not recover.
Belgium counter attacked and from a lightening move Nacer Chadii scored the winner on the stroke of the last second 3-2 .Dreams of Japan was cruelly dashed. Blue Samurai was so close to rewrite their soccer history. Yet it remained out of sight. Belgium earned a date with tournament favorites Brazil for the quarter finals.
For the first time in this tournament Belgium defense was really tested by the fleet footed Japanese front line. Company and Co were looked flat footed. They could get away luckily from a desperate situation last night .But Brazil with their top goal scoring quality would punish them if they can not smarten the defense.
No praise would be enough for the brave Japanese. Chances came their way to move into quarter final of a world come for the first time. It was the first time since 1970 World Cup in England a team came back after falling behind 0-2 . Belgium coach desperate to win made two vital changes bringing in Fellaini and Chadii . They added impetus with their fresh legs in nerve wrecking moments scoring two important goals.
There was no question of Belgian superiority from the start . They dominated the proceedings from the start. But Japanese not only defended resolutely but also harassed Belgian defense on occasions through pacey counter attacks. No sides could score in the first half. But two quality early Japanese goals in the second half shell shocked Belgium. They were almost on the edge of getting knocked out . Japanese however looked vulnerable from corners and crosses floating into the box. First goal by Ventongen was a fluke.
His innocuous looking long distance header was looking like floating away. But it suddenly dipped and before Japanese keeper could react entered through the extreme corner of the net. The match came alive. Belgians carried out repeated attacks. The second goal also came off a header from a corner creating confusion in Japanese defense. At 2-2 situation both teams got opportunity to forge ahead. Japanese failed to score and Belgium luckily scored at the last minute.
We can only feel sorry and sad for Japan. They were the first team ever to advance to round of 16 on the basis of fair play. They fought bravely. But luck was not with them on the day. With them the last Challenge of Asia is gone. Now the number 3 FIFA ranked team Belgium would be up against number 2 ranked Brazil to decide who goes to Semi Final. All must remember Belgium and England in the last group match were trying to avoid the situation. No team fancies playing Brazil at any stage of any world cup match.