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The most free-scoring team in the 2018 Fifa World Cup group stage, Belgium will aim to reach only their third quarter-final in the history of the greatest show on earth when they take on Japan, the lone Asian representative left in the tournament, at Rostov Arena in Russia Monday.

Belgium face Japan on Sunday with a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals on the line (22:00 UAE kick-off time).

In contrast to Japan, who scraped into the knockout stage ahead of Group H rivals Senegal thanks to the "fair play" tie-breaker, Belgium cruised through Group G with three wins from their three matches.

Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.

Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini scored to make it 2-2, before Nacer Chadli stuck a late, late victor.

The two sides have met once before at a World Cup, when Japan co-hosted the tournament in 2002.

Now Japan stand in the path of another appearance in the quarter-finals, where Brazil or Mexico will lie in wait.

Relieved Belgium manager Roberto Martinez saluted his side's resolve.


"I thought this is a World Cup, and we were faced with the strength in depth of Belgium, that's how I felt at the end of game".

Japan coach Akira Nishino, whose side agonizingly failed to reach the last eight for the first time, added: "We were leading, we were going to win but I didn't expect this kind of reversal of the result".

This shockingly cynical approach evoked memories of the notorious match played out between West Germany and Austria in Spain in 1982 - a 1-0 win for the Germans in which both teams seemed to stop playing after an early goal had been scored.

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. Up 2-0 against Belgium, Japan was looking at a first ever trip to the World Cup quarterfinals.

In a much better second half display by both teams, Belgium scored the first goal of the match as Marc Wilmots broke the deadlock with a superb overhead kick. Takashi Inui got the game's second.

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.

Courtois made an awesome save from a long-distance Keisuke Honda free kick and then gobbled up another attempt and fed Kevin De Bruyne who led the counter-attack that teed up Chadli's victor.


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