World Cup 2018: Belgium v Japan

Roberto Martinez's side are heavy favourites to set up a quarter-final clash against Brazil

Patrick Madden Mon, Jul 2
 
LIVE: World Cup 2018: Belgium v Japan

Sort by:

  • Latest first
  • Oldest first
  • This event has now ended
  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Belgium's last-16 clash with Japan in Rostov (kick-off 7.0pm).

    Things are really shaping up now, and by the close of play tonight we will know the identity of six of the eight World Cup quarter-finalists.

    And this side of the draw looks set to deliver a series of seriously heavyweight contests, with France facing Uruguay before the winners of tonight's fixture taking on the might of Brazil.

    Belgium are heavy favourites to progress and face the Selecao on Friday. Roberto Martinez's side have flickered sporadically in Russia but have shown enough to suggest they can go deep in this tournament - particularly with Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard firing.

    Japan meanwhile made it into the knockout stages by virtue of having a superior disciplinary record to Senegal. They are a tidy outfit but this looks a step too far for them today.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action, so sit back and enjoy. Afterall, what else would you be doing on a Monday night?

    Come on!!!

  • TEAM NEWS:

    BELGIUM: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, Hazard.

    JAPAN: Kawashima; Sakai, Yoshida, Shoji, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Shibasaki; Haraguchi, Kagawa, Inui; Osako.

    Referee: Malang Diedhiou (Senegal).

  • Belgium have been restored to full strength today, after Roberto Martinez made nine changes for the final group fixture against England - a curious non-event which the Belgians won 1-0. Vincent Kompany also returns to the side in the place of Dedryck Boyata.

    Japan boss Akira Nishino has restored the side who drew 2-2 with Senegal in the penultimate group game - Shinji Kagawa among those returning to the fold.

  • Brazil edged out Mexico in a sweltering Samara earlier today, Neymar scoring and predictably helping us to some particularly cringey amateur dramatics.
  • With Lukaku leading the line, Axel Witsel in midfield and the back three of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Kompany, this is a physically imposing Belgium side. Japan's tallest player is Southampton centre-half Maya Yoshida - they will have their work cut out at set-pieces.
  • Lukaku has been particularly impressive this summer, scoring a brace in the wins over Panama and Tunisia. Playing with Kevin De Bryune and Hazard suits him down the the ground - he has plenty of balls to run onto, rather than receiving it with his back to goal which tends to happen with Manchester United.
  • The teams are out of the tunnel.
  • "May your reign continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations, until the pebbles grow into boulders lush with moss."

  • Incase you were looking for an English translation of the Japanese anthem.
  • Today's referee is Malang Diedhiou of Senegal - hopefully he remains impartial. . .

    BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

  • 1 min: Early glimpse for Japan. A long ball is pumped into the Belgian box and a tame Carrasco header falls for Kagawa, who takes a touch and pulls a left-footed shot. Leftback/wingback does look like a potential weakness for Belgium, with an attacking winger in Carrasco picked there.

  • 3 min: Good ball inside from Meunier but Mertens can't take it in his stride - Yoshida clears ahead of Lukaku.
  • 5 min: Sakai does well on the right to win the ball back and then draw a foul from De Bruyne. They're lively.
  • 6 min: Great burst from Hazard, picking the ball up deep and beating one before playing it to Mertens - the return pass is loose.
  • 7 min: Japan keeping the ball nicely and forcing Belgium to get red shirts behind the ball and tuck in.
  • 8 min: First real touch in anger for Lukaku who lays it off to Carrasco. He ignores a good run to the left and dithers in possession, trying to beat his man but being forced out in the box. Belgium yet to get going.
  • 9 min: Inui curls form the left and Kompany does well to clear it ahead of Haraguchi.
  • 10 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 0
  • 12 min: Very even so far, Japan more than holding their own.
  • 13 min: Japan are pressing Belgium well - a line of four squeezing the Belgian's three-man defence. Route one isn't Martinez's style but you feel it would prove more fruitful here.
  • 15 min: A long ball to Hazard in the box and he holds it up well before laying it off to Witsel on the edge - his long-range effort is deflected behind for the game's first corner. They work it short and it comes to nothing - get it in the area surely?!

  • 17 min: Belgium switch it well to Meunier who heads across the box to Lukaku on the penalty spot. It won't quite drop for him but he does well to turn and earn a corner. It's played deep to Kompany who puts it out for a goal kick.
  • 19 min: It's slightly better from Belgium now, who are warming up a bit.
  • 20 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 0
  • 21 min: De Bruyne finds Lukaku on the edge, he turns onto his right and sees his shot deflected behind for another corner. De Bruyne drills it low to Mertens who can't connect with his first-time effort.
  • 24 min: Good Belgiumg break, with Lukaku chasing well down the right and cutting back to switch it for Carrasco - but his pull back into the area is to a blue shirt. They're upping the intensity bit by bit.
  • 25 min: Great ball in from Meunier towards Lukaku who gets there ahead of Yoshida - he's pushed by the Japanese centre-half and can't quite turn it home, the ball getting stuck under his feet. Best chance so far.
  • 26 min: Much, much better form the Belgians. Slick from Hazard cutting in and playing it to Mertens on the right - he pulls it back to De Bruyne on the edge but he fluffs his lines. Moment later Hazard has a shot saved, before Yoshida turns a ball behind for a corner with Lukaku lurking.
  • 28 min: Short corner and it's swung towards the back post - Kompany does excellently to hook it back from the byline but there's nobody there to gamble and turn it home.
  • 30 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 0
  • 31 min: A chance for Japan. Kagawa scampers towards the box and plays it to Nagatomo on the overlap - his cross is headed goalwards but it's straight at Courtois.
  • 34 min: Sakai chases a long ball down the right and Courtois has to be alert to gather it. After that spell of Belgian dominance this has settled down again.
  • 35 min: Great ball angled across to Inui and his touch in the box is sublime. It's squared to Osako on the edge who is superbly tackled by De Bruyne as he was looking to pull the trigger.
  • 36 min: Hazard ghosts into the box but Yoshida stands him on and blocks his shot. De Bruyne lays it off to Witsel who thrashes a shot well over. Scrappy, half chances for Belgium.
  • 38 min: Good play from Carrasco on the left but his cross is too strong for Meunier who was looking to follow in from the right.
  • 39 min: Hazard nips in and wins the ball in the centre-circle before turning and driving - he's hacked down by Shibasaki who gets a deserved booking.
  • 40 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 0
  • 43 min: Belgium probing and scheming on the edge of the final third but the final ball is yet to come off. Kawashima is yet to be properly tested.
  • 44 min: That was a chance for Japan. Nagotomo cuts in from the left and drills a low shot which the unmarked Osaka can't control. Courtois comes for the loose ball and lets it squirm through his legs - his blushes are spared as he turns and dives on it.
  • A bit of a stand off here in Rostov - Japan have kept Belgium at arm's length well.
  • To keep you entertained at half-time, you can read Ken Early's match report from Brazil's win over Mexico HERE.
  • We're back underway!
  • GOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!

    BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 1 (HARAGUCHI 48 MIN)

  • Wowowowowow! Inui wins the ball back and Japan break. There's an excellent ball slid through for Haraguchi, who slows it down and then drills an excellent shot across Courtois and into the far corner. Stunning.

    49 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 1

  • 50 min: Belgium nearly bounce straight back, the ball is pulled back to Hazard on the edge who bends a first-time effort into the righthand post. This has come to life.
  • GOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

    BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 2 (INUI 52 MIN)

  • WOW!!!! Kagawa lays a long ball off to Inui on the edge of the box, he takes a touch out of his feet and drills a stunning first-time effort into the bottom right corner. This is mad.

    53 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 2

  • 55 min: Kagawa gives it away on the edge and Belgium break through De Bruyne but his pass it picked off by the excellent Yoshida.
  • 59 min: Those two goals have left Belgium stunned, Japan seeing plenty of the ball and looking comfortable in possession. Haraguchi crosses from the right and Witsel heads it behind for a corner.  
  • 60 MIN: BELGIUM 0 JAPAN 2
  • 62 min: Golden chance for Belgium. Meunier swings in a great ball from the right and Lukaku rises but glances his header wide of the far post. Sitter.
  • 64 min: Japan nearly make it three! Carrasco has had a stinker and he gets done on the right again, Sakai playing it in low where Courtois has to stab it away.

    Martinez has seen enough and called for the cavalry - Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli on for Carrasco and Mertens.

  • 68 min: Monumental tackle from Yoshida, sliding in to block Lukaku's effort as he looked to turn home a cross from the right.
  • GOOOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!

    BELGIUM 1 JAPAN 2 (VERTONGHEN 70 MIN)

  • Belgium are back in it. Kawashima comes out to fist a cross, which is then hacked high towards the back post. Vertonghen then loops a huge header over the 'keeper and into the far corner. He's acting as if he meant it - if so it's a brilliant bit of ingenuity. Shoddy goalkeeping, mind.

    72 MIN: BELGIUM 1 JAPAN 2

  • 73 min: Great break from Belgium, Chadli with a big run out of defence. He switches inside to De Bruyne who ships it on the Hazard and then takes the return, shimmying onto his right and seeing a shot blocked for a corner.  
  • GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!

    BELGIUM 2 JAPAN 2 (FELLAINI 74 MIN)

  • Hazard jinks one way and then another on the left and lifts across towards the edge of the six-yard box where Fellaini crashes a header home. Trademark.

    76 MIN: BELGIUM 2 JAPAN 2

  • 76 min: Japan nearly bounce straight back as Inui runs into the box but he's snuffed out - they can't capitalise on the corner.
  • 79 min: Hard to know what to want here. Japan winning is great fun but Brazil v Belgium is the type of quarter-final clash you want to see. De Bruyne swings in a corner which is turned behind for another - predictably it's Belgium's aerial threat which has got them back into it.
  • 80 MIN: BELGIUM 2 JAPAN 2
  • 83 min: Excellent build-up from Japan, Kagawa working the space and sliding it through for Honda. He's run wide and Kompany slides in to block his shot behind for a corner.
  • 85 min: Belgium nearly take the lead. A deep cross to Chadli is headed goalwards - Kawashima makes a theatrical save. Form the corner Lukaku thumps a header down the middle and this time the Japan 'keeper turns it over.
  • 87 min: Vertonghen drills an effort from distance and Kawashima can only parry - he's reprieved as Fellaini gets caight offside.
  • 90 min: Wow! Japan probing and Honda crosses - Witsel nearly turns it inside his near post, forcing Courtois into a sharp save. There'll be four added minutes.
  • 91 min: De Bruyne heads the Japanese corner away at the near post. We're destined for extra-time.
  • 93 min: Japan have a free-kick a long way out, fairly central. Honda tries one from distance - what an effort - Courtois turning it behind for a corner.  

    Honda's delivery is easy for Courtois - Belgium break.

  • GOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!

    BELGIUM 3 JAPAN 2 (CHADLI 94 MIN)

  • Given the circumstances that is pretty special. Courtois throws it to De Bruyne who carries. He plays it wide to Meunier in space on the right, Lukaku dummies his low cross leaving it for Chadli to turn it home at the far post. Ecstasy for Belgium - utter agony for Japan. What a finish.

    94 MIN: BELGIUM 3 JAPAN 2

  • FT: BELGIUM 3 JAPAN 2  

    BELGIUM WILL PLAY BRAZIL IN THE QUARTER-FINALS!

  • Right, thanks for joining tonight. There are two last-16 fixtures tomorrow before the dreaded two day break. Let's try not to think about it.

    Cya!