Belgium completed a remarkable revival as they came from the World Cup abyss and beat Japan to reach the quarter-finals.
Roberto Martinez’s side were trailing 2-0 when he expedited Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli in the 65th moment, and Fellaini scored the equalizer before Chadli got a 94th-minute victor.
They now face Brazil in the last eight on Friday.
Japan looked on their way to a famous win in Rostov after Genki Haraguchi ran onto Gaku Shibasaki’s long ball, which Jan Vertonghen should have cut out, to open the scoring.
Takashi Inui’s 25-yard strike made it 2-0 and looked set to take the Asian side into their first quarter-final.
Belgium’s Premier League stars – their brilliant age – had put in a frustrating execution, and Martinez swung to the oft-scorned Fellaini and West Brom winger Chadli in his hour of need.
Their fortunes changed after that as Vertonghen scored a looping header to get them back into the game.
(image source : wdef)
Fellaini then headed in Eden Hazard’s cross to level before Chadli converted Thomas Meunier’s pass to finish off a flowing move and help the Red Devils avoid being the latest victims of a World Cup of shocks.
Belgium are the first team to fight back from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout game since West Germany against England in 1970.
Belgium clearly have the players – Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Thibaut Courtois are some of the Premier League’s undoubted stars. They are now unbeaten in 23 games, but there are always questions about whether they are tactically astute.
Martinez and his players will feel they have gone some way to answering those, and finding a real winning touch, having looked dead and buried after an hour.
Chelsea winger Hazard had hit the post in one of their few good chances in the opening 60 minutes.
BYet, they ground their way over into the amusement – despite the fact that the objective to give them trust was somewhat of a fluke. Inui booted the collect into the air and Vertonghen’s circling header flew over attendant Eiji Kawashima, who ought to have improved the situation.
At 20 yards, it is the longest headed World Cup goal since those stats were first recorded in 1966.
At that point the substitutes went to the fore. Fellaini, who marked another Manchester United arrangement a week ago, fueled in Hazard’s middle to level the scores following 74 minutes.
And the winner was a real team effort. Goalkeeper Courtois rolled the ball to De Bruyne, who had been quiet for 90 minutes but exploded into life when his country needed him.
The Manchester City playmaker carried the ball 60 yards before feeding Meunier, his cross was stepped over by Lukaku, and Chadli was on hand to steer it home.
Lukaku had scored 17 goals in his previous 11 Belgium games but his decision to not shoot on this occasion might prove more crucial than any of those.