Matchday 18 of the 2018 World Cup saw tournament favourites Brazil ease into the quarterfinals, where they will meet Belgium after the ‘Red Devils’ claimed an incredible win over Japan.
The day’s action got underway at the Cosmos Arena in Samara, where ‘A Selecao’ had to be patient against a resolute and determined Mexico side, who were looking to avoid yet another World Cup last 16 exit.
Yet when Neymar scored from close range early in the second half, there only ever looked like one winner, and Brazil went on to claim a second goal in the 88thminute when Roberto Firmino finished off a sweeping counter attack.
For ‘El Tri’, the result brings to an end a World Cup which started so brightly with their famous win over reigning champions Germany, and this is the seventh successive ‘Mundial’ in which they have made it through the group stage but failed to go any further.
The night game took place in Rostov-on-Don and a goalless first half between Belgium and Japan gave no hint of the amazing second stanza to come.
Japan stunned the favourites by taking a two-goal lead through fine strikes from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui, and arguably the biggest upset of the tournament looked to be on the cards.
However, Belgium fought back through headers from Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini to make it 2-2 and set up a thrilling finale.
The match looked set for extra time, but right at the death a Japan corner kick sparked a Belgium counter attack which ended with Nacer Chadli firing home a low shot from Thomas Meunier’s pass to win the clash 3-2 and set up a quarterfinal meeting with Brazil in Kazan on Friday night.