world cup

Belgium beats Japan 3-2 in injury time to reach World Cup quarterfinals

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By JEROME PUGMIRE

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114 Comments
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Now you're sad sad sad, but you're gonna be fine - ROLLING STONES

0 ( +0 / -0 )

3 straight goals for a come from behind victory. or ... did japan simply choke under pressure?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

3-0 Belgium I said..Lol! What do I know! Japan played superb! The entire world (on twitter also said that). Personally, I thought Japan were awesome. In England, Japan were criticised (just a bit) for trying to win the game in the last minute. Our TV pundits called them "a bit naive" for going for it. If I am allowed, i'd like to use this Ghost Dog quote:

"When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about doing it in a long, roundabout way. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong."

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

As a Londoner, I'd like to say, Japan were awesome!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That was by far, the best match of the tournament so far. Light years better than the ugly dud of a game that Spain and Russia put up. Congrats to Belgium for coming back from two goals down. They fought hard and showed their mettle. They ended up showing why they deserve their ranking (3rd). Also, good on Japan for not listening to all the pundits who gave them no chance at all against the European soccer great. There were so many so-called experts who had Belgium easily winning by three or four goals. Japan showed them that they belong with the big boys. Respect!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan can hold it's head high. A bitter sweet ending to Japan's world cup. This is a Japan that is virtually unrecognizable from the one that debuted two decades ago. New stars were born. Kids around the world will be screaming ''EE-NEW-EE''. Congratulations Belgium.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Respect for Japan! They had nothing to lose, played a great game, kept space tight and kept going as only Japanese can... They have shown heart during this game and should return home with their heads up.

As a Belgian, we were lucky at the end. Perhaps this game was a blessing for us and exactly what we need before facing the next game.

Anyways... remember this Japanese team for their last game: the kept going till the end and went out with a blast. Respect Japan and please keep growing for the next WC!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Terrific effort by Japan over the four games, they were annoyingly useful. Glad they got sent home though, I don’t have to pretend to my work colleagues that I suppport them anymore

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Malika,

I applaud a good defense as much as a stellar offense. What Japan displayed against Poland was neither, unless you want to call kicking the ball around like a bunch of elementary schoolers "defensive" soccer. It was also risky as heck as Senegal still had a chance to pull out their match.

I watch sports to be entertained. If my team wins, great! If they lose while giving it their best effort, no shame in that! A coach showing little confidence he had in his players, SHAMEFUL!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Best performance I’ve seen by Japan they were the better team for large swathes of the game and the Vertonghen goal that prompted the comeback had an element of luck. Not to take anything away from Belgium though who deserved the win, but Japan can hold their heads high. Everyone in England is hailing that great performance this morning and for their fans for cleaning up. Well done Japan!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well done guys what a fantastic match, I hope you all get a heroes welcome when you het back to Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Now -- in our house -- we’re for Japan staying in until the final just for the sheer gall of being for that ball 1 billion %. Fantastic tactics until that last corner... a need for redemption, for the way they played Poland having to be put right, for sure. What a World Cup!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan were just lucky to score the first goal by fluke

Lol, the only fluke goal is the one that got Belgium back into the game. They were lost until that. The player even admitted afterwards it wasn't an attempt on goal but just happened to spin in.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Jalapeno

Winning indeed is my philosophy. Because it means you can go on and play more. It is no coincidence Belgium scored on counter, in fact it's their specialty. The style of play never depends only on your team. It's much easier to play entertaining football against teams like Belgium who play open. You'll never get the chance to do that against defensive teams. Best example is Greece 2004, and most recently Denmark who managed to block most of Croatia players' potential who tend to play attacking football even when they're in lead.

The point is, it is wrong and sad for football that media and public should have any impact on how a match is played. Japan got pressured into one-size-fits-all reckless football which was more than likely to backfire. There are times when optimal football is not the prettiest one to watch, nevertheless if that's what it takes to win, a football team shouldn't be criticized for going down that road. Or are we willing to throw tactics out of window for the sake of moralistic virtue and selfish entertainment agenda?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

the Blue Samurai managed to get back a tiny sliver of their dignity

..??

In a group where Japan were favoured to finish bottom, especially after sacking the coach who got them there, they have over-achieved.

Japan beat Colombia and drew with Senegal. The coach showed intelligence in keeping it to 1-0 down against Poland. They then stretched Belgium only losing in the last kick of the game.

Japan had a better World Cup than Germany and as good as Argentina and Portugal.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

such a hugh surprise! japan played so well, can compared to the game:

france vs agrentina. i admire the japan team players, they did their best but lacking a bit of luck. looking forward to the next world cup.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan needs to change their jersey color to red as in their flag. Wondering why Blue. So next time it should be from Blue Samurai to Red Ninja.

This unexpected thriving heartbroken match is like another tale of bbc.

Belgium Bushido Counter-Attack!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So does this mean NHK will no longer broadcast the remainder of the World Cup Matches ?

Thankfully no. The bandwagon jumpers will simply stop watching and the celebs on daytime TV shows will stop talking about football, so the tournament will now be for football fans.

For football fans, the tournament has been a delight with lots of great matches, yesterday's included. I hope Japan's genuine fans could appreciate it without getting too caught up in the media-powered jingoism.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

So does this mean NHK will no longer broadcast the remainder of the World Cup Matches ?

Moderator: All games are being broadcast on different networks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This was an exemplary match by Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You go down swinging, no shame in that. They had something to prove after that Poland farce.

Malika, you and I have two different philosophies on sports. If you play not to lose, then you are not worth watching (at least not worth my time or attention). If winning by any means is your philosophy, then so be it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

steals and passes from Kagawa created many chances for Japan. Love him.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Congratulations to Japan for doing so well though. I predicted 3-1 in favor of Belgium, in the end it was 3-2 after all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Am i the only one who thinks Honda is overrated. He is like a lamp post.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a sickening way to lose a match.

The first half was pretty dull, but Japan was a different team in the second half, brilliant, but you could see them wilting under pressure from Belgium. I was hoping for extra time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sad.  So many on this site were wishing Japan ill and riticising thei play, but they really went all out and almost pulled this off.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Despite losing, a great performance with wonderful goals. Haraguchi looking like he was dawdling but pulled out a great shot from nowhere and Inui's was a rapier. He's been a star man at the tournament.

As Alfie says, Japan has an old team, the average age is 29, so a lot of them won't be back. It's a shame that this was their swansong. No team has lost a knockout game when 2-0 up since 1970. Conceding from your own corner is a sign of naivity, so that one is on Nishino.

Belgium did enough, but were very poor defensively. Shades of Martinez at Everton all over again.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Howaito-san, football may be the greatest game and the World Cup may be the greatest stage, but none of that robs me of my freedom of opinion and expression. If you enjoyed the Japan team's performance and conduct, congratulations, but you have 0 right to tell me or anyone else how to feel about it. Yeah, their achievement was 'great', but it still amounts to nothing more than playing a game and being good at it. I'll save my unconditional praise for people actually striving to make a positive difference in the world, not glory-chasing footballers that this country will go back to forgetting about in two weeks time.

And this thread has anyway been 90% positive towards Japan and you're still coming in to whine about the few of us that had something negative to say. Just enjoy your party and don't worry about us.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan, there is no need to feel down! SAMURAI BLUE did great! Even though they lost with RED DEVILS from Belgium, they belong to the 16 best teams in the world!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

you used “troll”, how original.

You have to call it as you see it. I see a lot of people praising Japan's performance at the World Cup. I also see a lot of right wingers and trolls, as usual.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@ Alfie

and sanctimonious @rses coming from countries that have created more mayhem on the planet in 500 years than this country’s “right wingers” ever did...

you used “troll”, how original.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Or .... we could congratulate the Japanese team for getting a far as they did in an incredibly difficult and challenging International competition and work towards supporting them and cheering them on for their next attempt.

 

Does anyone commenting negatively here have even the smallest understanding of what it takes to just make it to the competition at all, never mind getting as far as the knockout series?? How many of these armchair critics have ever come close to an equivalent achievement? How many of them have even attempted to?

 

It's a massive achievement in itself. So stop banging on about what the team "should have" done in all your lack of wisdom and knowledge, and applaud them - and the fans that have made such a terrific impression on the world with their post-match behaviour - for the great job they did in getting to this stage of the competition. They deserve your praise - NOT your opprobrium.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Great effort by Japan and the score line is nothing to be shamed of. Two fantasy goals from them but three great ones from Belgium.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I want to welcome the heros back especially the new star, Inui-chan! Hold your heads up high, Samurai Blue. Next WC aim for Semi-Final

Why aim for the semi final and not the final and winning it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Simon Foston - 'Challenge' is a word that Japanese people have difficulty with because the equivalent word (chousen) is used differently. Which explains a lot of poorly translated advertising slogans.

He was saying 'We'll be making 100% effort to do well in the next World Cup"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smithinjapanToday 09:41 am JST

It most certainly DOES make me a better fan of people just jumping on the bandwagon if and when the team of choice is doing well. I already know at least three people who said, "Watching the game was a waste of time!" because Japan lost, even though it was a more exciting game than most anticipated, and Japan faired quite well. I bet it wasn't a "waste of time" in the second half when Japan was up two to zip. Those people are not "fans".

I agree with you all 300%. A fan is a fan is a fan regardless. Cleveland Browns fans in the USA are a loyal bunch, even if they haven't yet made it to a Super Bowl. The 'Dawg Pound' is a LOYAL crowd, period.

In the Super Bowl of 1989, I knew some people in my job who rooted for the Cincinnati Bengals (we were in Columbus). Cincinnati lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the game and the next day they became 'San Francisco "fans"' because San Francisco had the champion team! Fair weather fans. 'Way the wind blows'.

As for myself, my previous military career ended in the SF area the year before and they've always been my #1.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Back on topic please.

smithinjapan:

If your original comment was directed solely at fair-weather "fans" or the late-comers jumping aboard the Japan bandwagon because the team was doing so much better than any of us (including me) expected, then fair enough.

For what it's worth, though, I'll leave you with the Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionary explanations of the origin of the word "fan".

"Fan is a shortened version of the word fanatic. Fanatic itself... means "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion."

Fits quite a few, I reckon.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Don't feel so bad, Japanese fans. You gave it your best shot.

I was surprised a bit a few times at this World Cup myself. We all figured Germany would be a contender now but they got whomped. I rooted for Argentina last week and they got stomped by Croatia (I got nothing personal against their team but I was still stunned nonetheless). The thing about this World Cup is that it's unpredictable.  

At the very least Putin's got his thugs reined in. He's not breaking up demonstrations or bashing gay people - for a change. He can be a decent host - when he wants to be.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It was an amazing end. I think even the Japan team was preparing for the overtime and not really concentrating, and the goalkeeper and players for Belgium knew exactly what to do to end it then and there. It was a near-perfect run from one of the pitch to the other, and that goal... wow. That moment Japan knew what it should have done on other occasions, as well as that it had become lazy in the last minute or so.

They did well, though. Belgium's ball-handling and passing was by far superior, but Japan created a LOT of great chances when they got it in the Belgium end; I thought they might get a third goal... until Honda came in (and started passing balls to fans) and Belgium won soon after.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Not only was it a great match, but there were almost no fouls and very few penalties.

I can't overstate how refreshing it is to watch such a man-up game. Loved every minute.

If you're predisposed to dislike soccer and you didn't enjoy that game, you can be pretty confident that you'll never like the sport.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Redtail Swift

Good on Belgium! You play until the last minute. Not pass the ball around, and ruin the experience of the people who paid extremely high ticket prices to watch soccer played at it's highest level

Do you even watch football? Why would they pass the ball around when they were trailing 2-0 on an elimination game?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

BigYen: "Sorry, can't agree with you."

Doesn't matter. It's fact. A fan does not make excuses, and does not constantly say "It's not our fault" when it's bad, and "It's because of us!" when they do well. They always support, and always take criticism to improve. They engage in excuses that only serve to harm the team, and therefore do not at all support the team's best interests. Besides, the "supposed fans" I was talking about are more people who were so excited last night, but today don't even want to talk about soccer... they suddenly hate it again.

"You're also allowed to be overly pessimistic, cynical, and to criticise your players/coach for the slightest fault, real or imagined. Also to imagine you could manage the team better than anyone who's actually paid for it."

YES! Be cynical of your players and coach, I am talking about the people making excuses for them.

"And you, of course, are entitled to disagree with them. That might make you a better analyst of the game than some, but it doesn't make you any more of a 'fan' than they are."

It most certainly DOES make me a better fan of people just jumping on the bandwagon if and when the team of choice is doing well. I already know at least three people who said, "Watching the game was a waste of time!" because Japan lost, even though it was a more exciting game than most anticipated, and Japan faired quite well. I bet it wasn't a "waste of time" in the second half when Japan was up two to zip. Those people are not "fans".

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Tremendous performance by Japan. It's a real shame they didn't play clever at the end and take the ball into the corner to run down the clock and force extra time. Roberto Martinez's poor tactics were exposed by Nishino and his players but the strength in depth of the Belgians came through eventually. If you can bring the likes of Fellaini and Chadli off the bench then you've always got a chance.

Sadly, this marks the end of Kagawa, Honda, Nagatomo, Kawashima, Hasebe and Yoshida at this level. They've been great for Japan and punched far above their weight at this World Cup. No-one I spoke to before the tournament started gave them much chance of getting out of the group so this has to be seen as a success. Whether they can build on this is another question.

Belgium will have to seriously improve if they're to get past Brazil. Neymar (boo hiss) is the star but Coutinho is the man and he looks in ominous form.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

smithinjapan:

supposed fans...?

Sorry, can't agree with you.

Football is a game where you're allowed to be unreasonable in support of your team.

You're allowed to be ridiculously optimistic, irrational, to excuse the inexcusable and to refuse to admit you or your team did the wrong thing at any time.

You're also allowed to be overly pessimistic, cynical, and to criticise your players/coach for the slightest fault, real or imagined. Also to imagine you could manage the team better than anyone who's actually paid for it.

And you, of course, are entitled to disagree with them. That might make you a better analyst of the game than some, but it doesn't make you any more of a 'fan' than they are.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I want to welcome the heros back especially the new star, Inui-chan! Hold your heads up high, Samurai Blue. Next WC aim for Semi-Final.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good on Belgium! You play until the last minute. Not pass the ball around, and ruin the experience of the people who paid extremely high ticket prices to watch soccer played at it's highest level.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This game must have been extremely exciting to watch for every Japanese, from young to old, and the way the players fought tooth and nail must definitely have transpired for those that watched.

@thechosen,

Right, as I said, a couple of decades. But given how the world cup occurs every 4 years, it would mean in a couple of more world cup tournaments, Japan would not be taken for granted.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This match was so inspiring and both teams deserved to go through the next round.

I believe that by having played with this fighting spirit, the Samurai Blue would surely leave a long lasting impact on the next generation of young soccer players and coaches.

Considering the nature of his appointment just two months before the world Cup begins, the Japan coach Akira Nishino fully deserves the credit for this achievement.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Better match than I expected, and that second goal by Japan in particular was a great shot! Nothing beats that header by the Belgian player, though! That was crazy! And their other two shots were amazing, too.

Anyway, the Blue Samurai managed to get back a tiny sliver of their dignity after the heinous end to the game against Poland. It's a shame some supposed fans haven't, like with Maiika:

Maiika: ""Giving it all" at the close of the game means "Risking it all", which is hardly "Doing your best" - and they didn't dare to do otherwise in this game against Belgium."

And Belgium is the team that showed you play to win in the closing. That last rush to goal and kick in is what you do... not what Japan had done before and was criticized for.

"And because of whom they did not?"

Because of themselves.

"This loss is not on players - it's on media and public who pushed the mentality which in the end turned out to be fatal for their own team."

Hogwash. The loss is on Japan, same as the win is on Belgium. They played amazingly, and Japan better than before.

"Shame on those who kept projecting their own imaginations of what is "virtue" on the football field"

Not imagination. Shame on the people making excuses.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan certainly forced Belgium to get serious but unfortunately for them they did and had some great set up plays at the end when it counted. Also the earlier double header goals were stellar. Seemed like Japan lost its cool and energy at the end

I would encourage Japan fans to cheer on for Belgium

4 ( +5 / -1 )

That was a crushing loss. Build a quick lead then watch it evaporate and lose it literally at the last second. Well that’s it for me - don’t have much interest the rest of the way now.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

jcapan, so of everything in life, football is the one area where a person is not allowed to hold their own opinions and must simply toe some kind of nationalistic line?

And what happened in the previous match absolutely was the fault of the team itself. All the media was actually guilty of was of whitewashing the event and basically saying 'the ends justify the means' in a million different ways.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Kawashima is an embarrassment"

For real, I only saw fear in his eyes in this match. And how many mistakes had he made in this WC? geez

The team's performance is astonishing given how bad he is

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A lot of sleepy bloodshot eye stafff came to my hospital this morning.

A good nurse provides coffee and comfort chop chop..

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

What a match. So sad for Japan. Probably one of the best matches this worldcup.

Lets give it up one more time for Inui's goal. What a shot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch5PuYu1aaM

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It was a fascinating match Japan played so well to get 2 scores but Belgium was strong enough to score back and the 3rd goal in additional time to definitely defeat Japan. Belgium side was so deadly serious to win that the coach’s baton of command was to use their gigantic "Transformer". Next time Japan to win with their "Captain Tsubasa". Well done Japan!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A lot of sleepy bloodshot eye stafff came to my hospital this morning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan had a great run and the future future looks bright for Japanese football.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan's soccer is improving at a rapid pace and one day be considered a legitimate contender for the world cup within the next couple of decades. 

Its going to be a loooooong wait mate.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Kawashima is an embarrassment, and has been for years.

Spot on. I remember when he played for Dundee United and almost single-handedly got them demoted. It's sad because the Japanese defenders (Yoshida, in particular) are very good.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Kawashima is an embarrassment, and has been for years. He can't catch the ball, he punches or palms it away, anywhere, and always tries to make every save look spectacular. He has no positional sense and he has no idea where his goalposts or goal-line are. To let that Vertongen header in says it all.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Japan were just lucky to score the first goal by fluke. Then they tried to sit back and play 11 men behind the ball. Only 4 shots on goal and 10 wild ones off target compared to Belgium having more than 10 on goal and 24 off goal. Weaker teams tend to do this to upset stronger teams and it’s not entertaining. Would people from around the world seriously have liked watching a Japan team in the finals...no way! Better teams with more skills deserve to progress to the quarters, semis and final! People prefer to see entertaining matches.

People saw an entertaining match but the poster was probably entertaining himself during the game on a phone as he has no clue about the game and just saw some stats passing by on the TV screen :)

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Sadly, Kawashima's incompetence in goal really showed through

Did you watch the game?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

"Really? I would have thought at 2-0 up, Japan would have just dribbled the ball back and forth, you know, like against Poland."

Poland had no will go through, it was a match of formality. Belgium on the otherhand wouldn't have let you passing around uncontested, being a stronger team aside.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Halilhodzic would have prepared them better for such situations than Nishino.

Yeah, because he was so fantastic during his stint with Japan? Japan made the Round of 16 3 times, last 2 with Japanese coaches. The first one was a foreign coach but was the host country with the crowd on their side. Chew on that!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

When Japanese people react to this with a mixture of incredulity at the late collapse, sarcastic comments, cries of sack the manager with Nishino’s face superimposed onto a turnip in the tabloids, then we know they will have arrived on the world stage.

Take as much pleasure in your defeats as your victories. It’s so much more fun than bleating about how we did our best, proud of our boys and roll on 2022. Utter guff.

Thanks to Japan for being part of a cracking game of football. They made some friends among the neutrals watching that around the world.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

A dignified exit, at the very least.

I could not disagree more. it was undignified. Humbling would be my choice of words.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

@cucashopboy

Wild horses couldn’t stop me from rolling over blearily at 4.50 and checking my mobile.

Dedicated, or what?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan were just lucky to score the first goal by fluke. Then they tried to sit back and play 11 men behind the ball. Only 4 shots on goal and 10 wild ones off target compared to Belgium having more than 10 on goal and 24 off goal. Weaker teams tend to do this to upset stronger teams and it’s not entertaining. Would people from around the world seriously have liked watching a Japan team in the finals...no way! Better teams with more skills deserve to progress to the quarters, semis and final! People prefer to see entertaining matches.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just watching the goals on the internet. The Belgians didn't even use their feet to score their first two!!!!!!!!! That first header was out of this world!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Yessssssss!!!! Finally all is right in the football world again. THAT japan, is how to play with fighting spirit!!!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Sadly, Kawashima's incompetence in goal really showed through.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I love Japan, they always choke from the pressure from the media.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

cucashop boy:

Ganbare Japan - Japan played well and gave their best. You can hold up your head high after that match.

I don't think you know how the trolling system works.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Coach totally to blame for collapse as he did not train players to play full out to final whistle as in the previous game. Also, they had a poor defense against the counter on the final goal. Halilhodzic would have prepared them better for such situations than Nishino.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

@Alex80

@Kaishu: well, if Japanese people are very proud of this match, they are right. The Italian tv commentators were shocked by the amazing way Japan played as well. Japan showed to be one of the best teams in this WC despite being an underdog.

Yeah, they should be proud. Ganbare takes it to extremes on every topic that Japan is involved in.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

lucabrasi - funny! You getting up early to watch our unreliable boys?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Erbaviva: Today Belgium didn't show to be way more talented and faster than Japan. They played worse than Japan. Anyway, Belgium IS a very strong team, and a real contender to WC, unlike teams like Germany and Spain, that played so bad, despite their reputation. But today Belgium has been really lucky, and their defense was a mess. If they will commit the same mistakes against Brazil, they will lose for sure, because Brazil with its experience can handle an advantage way better than Japan. The Japanese paid the prize of lack of experience, but they showed a beautiful way to play.

@Yumster100: You shouldn't care about Japan haters in this site. I learned to ignore them. It's obvious to anyone that knows football that Japan played a beautiful match, and they were not only the best Asian team in this WC, but one of the best teams in general. So, don't care about thumbs down and stuff like this.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Tactically naive, Japan. Should’ve parked the bus at 2-0 up.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Well done. Exceptional really. And not the media, etc is to blame, but Nishino for poor decision making. Get rid of Nishino and for the team the sky is the limit.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The Japanese team did really well against the much touted and better teams they faced. The way they played against Belgium was inspirational and showed the world that Japan's soccer is improving at a rapid pace and one day be considered a legitimate contender for the world cup within the next couple of decades. A job well done despite the usual bickering of the bitter posters on here.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Ganbare Japan - Japan played well and gave their best. You can hold up your head high after that match.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

> Good riddance, i will start enjoying the wc now without the constsnt reminder they are world beaters.

Obviuosly punched above their weight against Belgium.

A football lover umbling here?

Nah, just a small boy with some issues. :)

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

"When we were up 2-0, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities," Japan coach Akira Nishino said.

Really? I would have thought at 2-0 up, Japan would have just dribbled the ball back and forth, you know, like against Poland.

Gonna be a lot of people at work today in a really foul mood.

> The Japanese have now lost in the round of 16 three times without ever reaching the quarterfinals.

Belgium is the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup knockout match since West Germany beat England in extra time at the 1970 tournament.

Well, we all like records. Look at it this way. Japan won't have to play Brazil.

They almost shocked the World again. Honda almost scored and finished Belgian.

Sorry, no prizes for woulda shoulda coulda. Gambare Berugii!

5 ( +13 / -8 )

@Peeping Tom: yeah, many Italians are commenting Japan had to make "catenaccio" and handle the advantage. Instead, they made the most dangerous choice, and continued to attack. They were called a bit "naive" for this. European teams are more astute, and they would have handled the advantage in a different way.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Good riddance, i will start enjoying the wc now without the constsnt reminder they are world beaters.

Obviuosly punched above their weight against Belgium.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

@Kaishu: well, if Japanese people are very proud of this match, they are right. The Italian tv commentators were shocked by the amazing way Japan played as well. Japan showed to be one of the best teams in this WC despite being an underdog.

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

Amazing match, maybe the most beautiful one in the whole WC so far. Japan actually played better than Belgium.

Belgium has been really lucky with its first goal, like the Italian tv commentators said. Well, it was also lucky to score at the last second.

But football is also a matter of luck.

Japan could try to play more defensive after the advantage, but they preferred to attack more. Honor to them, they can be proud of themselves. Everyone in the Italian television praised Japan so much. Today I watched also Brazil vs Mexico, and the match has been so slow and boring compared to this. Anyway, congrats both to Belgium and Japan. But Belgium must improve its defense if it wants to win against Brazil, they made a mess today, and Japan was the first well organized, aggressive and solid team they faced so far in this WC.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Gokurosama, Samurai blue!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Great job Japan!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Great game and kudos to Japan for getting so far. Well played by both sides.

Ganbare

Blue Samurai should have won the game at the end. They almost shocked the World again. Honda almost scored and finished Belgian.

Should have and didn't are two totally different things. Stop with the whole over the top nationalistic pride.....

15 ( +19 / -4 )

The crying reminded me of the Koshien losses in baseball. They should be proud.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Should've subbed Honda in earlier.

And also, Japan should find a new GK.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

...a yes, the goalkeeper with his helpless ball punches, he needs to lose that custom and learn to catch the ball...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Japan played a great match what many said on here was going to be a blow out by Belgium. Belgium's key seemed to be their substitutions which were key in all of their goals. First half was excellent and Japan had the momentum to start the 2nd half but seemed to run out of gas the last 1/4 of the game. Honda, Nagatomo, Kawashima, Hasebe- not saying this will be your last World Cup but if I take age into account, thank you for the memories and you will forever be household names in Japan.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I am heartbroken. Blue Samurai should have won the game at the end. They almost shocked the World again. Honda almost scored and finished Belgian.

They played like Samurai, all Japanese are proud of their greatest soccer team ever! 2022, challenge for the trophy!

-26 ( +1 / -27 )

The young men on the Japanese squad should hold their heads high. They played an excellent game against a strong opponent.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Japan played very good in the first half, very good in the first 15 minutes of the second half, then they were left out of steam... Belgium was the better team today, but the Japanese did also very good... Questionable tactics from the trainer, not changing the tired players and not focusing on defending the 2-0... :( . They were close to a stunning surprise

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Good goals from japan, the second will be a condender for goal of the tournament.

Unfortunately, the just couldn't defend the high ball -

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Sitting back immediately after the lead was probably not a good idea, they've have exposed themselves to Felleni and Lukaku's pounding constantly. They did well to withstand the Belgium onslaught, until the last few minutes, they changed their mind and start pressing forward, wierd

Also, my god, their goal keeper freaking sucks. seriously, you are not going anywhere with a panicked deer like him standing on the goal line.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is the way Japan needs to play, and they almost pulled off a shocker. Don’t ever pull that nonsense like they did against Poland.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Brazil or France will be the champs, barring a major disaster

Neymar lifting the World Cup would be a disaster.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I predicted 3-0 for Belgium and at 0-2 we were flabbergasted about the well deserved lead in my football waterhole.

Forgiven the bs performance against Poland with this disciplined playing against one of the favorites for the title. Blue samurai indeed.

In the Guardian commenters were bashing the BBC studio team about their view on Japan. In my homecountry the studio team of football players and journalists gave a standing ovation for this magnificant game.

The J team deserved extra time but their sloppy corner in the last minutes was outplayed well by the Belgium side.

This is football !

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Japan's naivety showed in up in the end of the game. No Italian team, the kings of Catenaccio would have gone all out at that late stage, when extra time was a few seconds away.

Anyway, it was a good match; Japan will undoubtedly learn from this and challenge again in the future.

Still don't see Belgium winning it. Brazil or France will be the champs, barring a major disaster.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Perhaps now those who were horrified over stalling against Poland will understand what football is. 

@Maiika - No. The criticism labelled at Japan for time wasting vs Poland was justified. Boos rang out from the stadium from the crowd, and are you saying none of them understood football?

Today was when Japan SHOULD have played defensively - no team will get criticised for sitting deep 2-0 up and playing on the counter. It's basic football tactics 101.

At the same time, no team will NOT be criticised for passing the ball back and forth between defenders for the final 15 minutes while losing 1-0.

There is a clear difference between these 2 scenarios.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

This loss is not on players - it's on media and public who pushed the mentality which in the end turned out to be fatal for their own team.

In effect it's society as a whole that allows this mentality to flourish. It is often said that Japanese athletes lack the "hungry-seishin". Yes the media plays it's part, but so does everyone else from the PM on down.

It's evidenced by how politicians, celebrities, and sports figures get treated, and every ties themselves to the bandwagon, even when it is headed off a cliff.

The team put their hearts out there, and played as best as they could, against a team that was maybe 10 seconds better than them today.

Well played Japan! See them again in 4!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

So much to like here...Kawashima's saves were amazing. then, in stoppage time, a magnificent free kick -- should have been 3-2 for Japan -- and even better save by Courtois.

but best of all was not the game-winning goal, but rather the game winning dummy. Lukaku shows once again what a class act he is. Golden Boot means nothing, except to selfish strikers. he knew that with the defense collapsing on him the better play was to dummy the pass and let another player score. so, so good.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Most people never expected Japan would play so well but Japan itself never expected that last seconds. They showed Samurai Spirit too much this time because of last time.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

The tactics in the final moments were questionable, they were seconds away to extra time. But Belgium is just a better team overall. Good game!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Great game, by far the best Japan played at the Cup. Goes a long way to make up for the Poland debacle! I can see the big clubs in Europe waving a chequebook at Inui, he was outstanding!

Super comeback by Belgium, but I really cant see them troubling Brazil in the QF.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

A dignified exit, at the very least.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Perhaps now those who were horrified over stalling against Poland will understand what football is. Viewers expects from players same composure and concentration in last minutes as if they were in first minutes of the game. Never taking fatigue into account because they watch the game while sitting comfortably on their sofas.

Players who have been conditioned their whole life with "ganbare" mentality shouldn't have been scolded like children. It was an utterly unnecessary pressure. "Giving it all" at the close of the game means "Risking it all", which is hardly "Doing your best" - and they didn't dare to do otherwise in this game against Belgium.

And because of whom they did not?

This loss is not on players - it's on media and public who pushed the mentality which in the end turned out to be fatal for their own team.

Shame on those who kept projecting their own imaginations of what is "virtue" on the football field, and cared more about appearances than support and understanding. I would add "forgiveness" if I thought there was something to forgive, but there isn't, is it.

-11 ( +12 / -23 )

Belgium is a favorite contender to win the world cup and they showed us why. But Japan did seriously challenged the much faster, far mose talented, and bigger team. Heads up Japan, you are becoming a real contender at last.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Wow what a match.

At 2-0 up Japan should have sat deep and soaked up the pressure from Belgium and hit on the counter, but perhaps they were a little hesistant to be seen playing defensively again after having been booed for passing the ball back and forth in the final 15 minutes of the group stage loss vs Poland.

Why Japan pushed everybody up in injury time for a corner kick vs much taller Belgian players is beyond me. They were going for glory obviously but it can backfire badly and it did.

All in all an instant classic World Cup game, but Japanese fans will rue what could have been, especially with the manner it was lost with 15 seconds left in injury time.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

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