After a largely damp squib of a first-half, two high quality strikes in quick succession early in the second half from Japan got everybody excited about the possibility of another epic upset at what’s quickly become a rather epic World Cup in terms of surprises, drama, and upsets.
Thibaut Courtois could do nothing about the goals from Haraguchi and Inui, and suddenly it looked like yet another favorite for the Cup will go out in spectacular style. People love an upset of course and they were dancing on the graves of Belgium, and Bobby Martinez, and Romelu Lukaku, and all the Chelsea boys, and the non-Chelsea boys dressed in red.
But this Belgium Golden Generation are made of sterner stuff than that. Championed by suddenly very vocal and not at all carefree leader Eden Hazard, they must truly believe this is their time ... even when the game-changing substitutions come in the forms of Marouane Fellaini and, don’t laugh now, Nacer Chadli. Of course, the ones laughing now are the two of them, scorers of the game-tying and game-winning goals, respectively.
Jan Vertonghen got the Red Devils started four minutes after that double substitution, even if he didn’t really mean it. Five minutes later, a classic Fellaini goal brought parity (Eden Hazard with a lovely turn and cross for the assist). A picture-perfect counter from a Japan corner with just about the last kick of the match brought the house down. Fantastic composure from Lukaku to dummy Meunier’s cross for Chadli to slot in the game winner.
What an epic game! What an epic World Cup!
And now, Belgium and Brazil are set for what’s sure to be an epic quarterfinal showdown on Friday. Can hardly wait.