Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli come off the bench to score, rescue Belgium
Down 2-0 early in the second half, Belgium looked as if their tournament was about to end in massive disappointment. To their credit they didn't allow it to. Headed goals from Jan Vertonghen (69th minute) and substitute Marouane Fellaini (74th minute) pulled the Red Devils back into the contest at 2-2 before another substitute, Nacer Chadli, finished off a beautiful counterattack with a last-minute winner. It was stressful, but Belgium are into the quarterfinals!
Belgium showed their strength in this World Cup. The squad of Roberto Martinez transformed a 2-0 deficit after 69 minutes into a 3-2 victory after 90 minutes. Resilient.
Belgium surprisingly didn't create a lot of chances within the first hour against Japan, who scored two excellent goals at the beginning of the second half.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Martinez started 10 new names compared to the team against England. Most surprising was the return of Vincent Kompany to the starting XI. Dedryck Boyata was benched but the other 10 names were the same as against Tunisia and Panama. Excellent substitutions with Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli, who both scored.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Had some luck at the end of the first half with a good save on Yuya Osako's shot. No chance at all at the goals of Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui. Started a great counterattack for the third Belgian goal.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 6 -- Good passing in the back, but didn't have much to do. Just continued his fine tournament.
DF Vincent Kompany, 5 -- Not only important in defense, but also attack. Did a lot of passing in the back with "buddy" Alderweireld. Decent.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 6 -- One big mistake from the most experienced Belgian Red Devil to allow Japan to go up 1-0 through Haraguchi. Gave Belgium new hope after his header looped over Eiji Kawashima.
MF Thomas Meunier, 5 -- Had a tough evening against Yuto Nagatomo and Shinji Kagawa, who almost scored after his mistake. Assisted on Chadli's last-minute winner.
MF Yannick Carrasco, 5 -- Had a lot of freedom at the beginning of the game, but couldn't create anything. Shot very wide in the second half. Benched after 64 minutes.
MF Axel Witsel, 5 -- Too late to block the shot of Inui. Had difficulty finding his way in the Belgium midfield. Almost an own goal in the end, but Courtois saved.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 6 -- Did anyone see a glimpse of his star quality against Japan? We all had to wait until the 94th minute, but it was all worth it! Excellent teamwork started Chadli's goal.
FW Dries Mertens, 5 -- Belgian teammates found it difficult to reach Dries Mertens. Benched after 64 minutes. Ghost.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 6 -- Worked really hard, but was for a long time not dangerous at all in front of the Japanese goalkeeper. Header a few centimeters near the post and a great save from Kawashima. Unlucky.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- Had a shot on target in the middle of the goal but it was saved by Kawashima. Had no space thanks to Gaku Shibasaki. Hit the post in the beginning of the second half. Assisted Marouane Fellaini's equaliser.
FW Marouane Fellaini, 7 -- Job done, you could say for the Big Fella. Absolute master class in the air to pull Belgium level at 2-2. If you have a problem that no one else can solve, sub on Fellaini.
MF Nacer Chadli, 7 -- Big impact. Belgium became more dangerous with the experienced Chadli playing on the left and he applied the finishing touches on the winning goal after great teamwork on the counter.