Japan falls to Belgium in World Cup

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 17:26:26-04

MOSCOW (AP) – The Latest on Monday at the World Cup (all times local):
12:05 a.m.
Akira Nishino was lost for words, devastated after Japan’s last-minute loss to Belgium at the World Cup. His players were stunned, too.
So what did he say to console his squad, known as the Samurai Blue: "Take a shower."
"They were standing, just not doing anything," Nishino says. "So I am going to talk to them after we get back to the hotel."
Japan was expected to be no match for a Belgium squad which some pundits have tipped as a major contender for the World Cup title.
At 2-0 up after a pair of goals to open the second half, suddenly an upset was on the cards. But Belgium rallied with two headed goals and scored a length-of-the-field clincher four minutes into stoppage time for a 3-2 win and a spot in the quarterfinals against five-time champion Brazil.
Japan lost in the round of 16 for the third time, and is still yet to reach the World Cup quarterfinals.
"It’s not just that we played well, but we had to win it," Nishino says. "Our team is strong enough, and against Belgium, we could at least match them, I believed.
"But at the end – right at the end – to have conceded a goal like that … I am very disappointed. I am devastated."
11:15 p.m.
Roberto Martinez believes his Belgium lineup has survived a "test of a character" after clinching its 3-2 comeback win over Japan deep in stoppage time to secure a World Cup quarterfinal spot against Brazil.
Japan scored twice within five minutes after the halftime break before the Belgian attack lit up, equalizing with headed goals in the 69th and 74th minutes and creating opportunities in an end-to-end attacking finish to the game.
After Keisuke Honda narrowly missed with a free kick that could have earned Japan its first ever entry to the World Cup quarterfinals, the Belgians moved the ball the length of the field to set up Nacer Chadli’s winner.
Martinez says "You get pushed in games – you have to congratulate Japan."
"It’s a test of character. It’s a test of the team. And you have to see how … the whole team reacts."
It was the first time since West Germany rallied to beat England in extra time that a team has rallied from 2-0 down to win a knockout game at the World Cup. It was the first time since 1966, when Portugal came back to beat North Korea, that a team has come back from 2-0 down to win a knockout match in normal time.
Martinez says "Just to win the game 3-2 in the World Cup within 90 minutes, I think it tells you everything about these players."
"In football, sometimes you want to be perfect," he adds. "In the World Cup and especially in the knockout stage, it’s about getting through, and that’s what we did today."
10:55 p.m.
Belgium has rallied from 2-0 down to beat Japan 3-2 with a goal in the dying seconds and advance to a World Cup quarterfinal match against Brazil.
Nacer Chadli finished off a length-of-the-field movement late in stoppage time for the clincher on Monday night at the Rostov Arena. It’s the first time since 1970 that a team has rallied to win a knockout game from 2-0 down at a World Cup.
Midfielders Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui scored in the 48th and 52nd minutes to give Japan a surprising 2-0 lead.
Jan Vertonghen started the comeback when he scored with a looping header in the 69th and another substitute, Marouane Fellaini, headed home Eden Hazard’s cross from the left in the 74th.
What was expected to be a mis-match ended up to be a classic match.
Belgium was one of only three teams to win all three group games and topped the tournament scoring list with nine goals in the group stage. Japan narrowly scraped through to the knockout stage in the tightest of tiebreakers against Senegal – after both teams finished level in Group G – because it had a better disciplinary record at the tournament.
Japan has now lost in the round of 16 three times and has never reached the World Cup quarterfinals.
10:33 p.m.
Belgium has scored two quick goals to equalize at 2-2 against Japan in the World Cup round-of-16 game.
Jan Vertonghen scored with a looping header in the 69th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. Japan was unable to clear the ball and Vertonghen angled his floating header from outside the left of the penalty area over the head of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
Substitute Marouane Fellaini’s header to Eden Hazard’s cross from the left in the 74th made it 2-2.
Midfielders Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui scored early in the second half for Japan.
10.10 p.m.
Japan has scored twice early in the second half to take a surprise 2-0 lead over Belgium in the World Cup round-of-16 game at Rostov Arena.
Midfielder Genki Haraguchi scored three minutes after halftime when defender Jan Vertonghen let a pass from the midfield slip under his foot. Haraguchi ran into the right side of the penalty area and angled a low shot past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Belgium forward Eden Hazard hit the post a minute later before Takashi Inui’s strike in the 52nd doubled the lead.
Shinji Kagawa created the opportunity from the edge of the penalty area and Inui picked up the loose ball and whipped a curling strike into the bottom right corner.
The winner plays Brazil on Friday.
9:46 p.m.
Japan is holding Belgium 0-0 at halftime in their World Cup round-of-16 match at Rostov Arena.
Attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa shot wide in the first minute as Japan showed good movement early on, using width to stretch Belgium’s flat back three.
Led by star forward Eden Hazard’s darting runs, Belgium showed flashes of its attacking ability but too often lost possession.
Striker Romelu Lukaku failed to properly connect with a cross from the right in the 25th before Hazard finally tested goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima moments later.
With one minute left in the half, Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saw a deflected shot from Japan striker Yuya Osako squeeze out of his hands and through his legs, but there was not enough power on it and he gathered the ball back.
The winner plays Brazil on Friday.
9 p.m.
Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic has undergone an MRI scan to determine the severity of the shoulder injury he sustained in the round of 16 victory over Denmark at the World Cup.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic says the team is still waiting on the results of the scans to determine whether Kovacic will be available to play on Saturday when Croatia faces Russia in the quarterfinals.
Kovacic was hurt late in the second half when he was tripped up and fell onto his right side with his right arm extended. His shoulder took the brunt of the fall, but he remained in the match. Kovacic entered in the 71st minute replacing Marcelo Brozovic. 
Dalic says, "His shoulder hurts very much and all the credit to him because he played with a really tough injury. He showed great courage."
Kovacic has appeared in every match at the World Cup and started in the victory over Iceland. 
8:30 p.m.
A trio of phlegmatic Russian fans clad in traditional folk headdress is going viral on social networks.
A woman flanked by two men – all of them wearing the tall ornamental Kokoshnik headdress and munching hot dogs during Russia’s win over Spain to reach the World Cup quarterfinals – attracted cameramen and instantly became popular on the Internet.
Many Russian fans have put on the elaborate headdress as part of their garb, but few looked as picturesque as designer Inna Kalenskaya, her businessman husband Dmitry Gnatyuk and his nephew bar owner Yuri Gnatyuk.
They say in televised comments after the game they didn’t have much hope for Russia’s success and were excited by the victory. Dmitry Gnatyuk adds jokingly that "hot dogs bring victory."
8:10 p.m.
Star forward Eden Hazard, striker Romelu Lukaku and all of Belgium’s other big names are back in the starting lineup to face Japan in the World Cup round of 16.
Coach Roberto Martinez made 10 changes to the second-string lineup that started in the 1-0 win over England in the last group game.
Center-half Vincent Kompany is in the starting lineup for the first time in the tournament after recovering from a groin injury sustained last month.
Meanwhile, Japan coach Akira Nishino has recalled midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Takashi Inui among several expected changes from the team which lost 1-0 to Poland last week and only squeaked into the knockout stage ahead of Senegal because it collected less yellow cards.
Veteran midfielder Makoto Hasebe returns to captain the side while Shinji Okazaki, who has 50 goals for Japan, is on the bench.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Yannick Carrasco, Dries Mertens, Thomas Meunier.
Japan: Eiji Kawashima, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui, Yuya Osako, Makoto Hasebe, Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida.
7:45 p.m.
Mexican soccer fans hung their heads and sang sadly after their national team was eliminated from the World Cup in a 2-0 loss to five-time champion Brazil.
Fans clustered together around a big screen TV on Mexico City’s main avenue singing a melancholy rendition of the Mexican folk song Cielito Lindo.
Jhakelyn Becerril, a 17-year-old fan, says "Going into the game everybody was afraid because Brazil is so good, but then they played well and I thought we had a chance."
Gerardo Hernandez said he was disappointed but hadn’t given up on Mexico eventually breaking a streak a drought. El Tri has not been able to get past the round-of-16 for the last six tournaments.
Hernandez says, "We’ll just have to wait another four years, then we’ll all be out here again to support them." Thousands of Mexico fans traveled to Russia and were a dominant presence in the stadium when El Tri played.
7:40 p.m.
Brazilians are celebrating and feeling relief after the Selecao beat Mexico 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals at the World Cup.
Brazil had been expected to win but after several upsets many fans worried that the country with the most World Cup titles could also get knocked out.
Streets were largely abandoned as millions took off work and watched Brazil play on televisions in bars, squares and beaches.
In Rio de Janeiro’s downtown Praca Maua, thousands gathered to watch the game on a giant screen akin to a drive-in movie theater. People climbed trees to get better views while others drank beer and caipirinhas, a mixture of hard alcohol and limes. Fans jumped and screamed at each goal. Many interviewed said the tournament was a welcome distraction from myriad problems facing Latin America’s largest na
7:30 p.m.
The Regulatory authority for online games in France says local gamblers have bet 363 million euros ($421.5 million) on the 48 group matches played at the World Cup, a sharp increase compared to four years ago.
In a statement published on Monday, the ARJEL said 39 million euros ($45.3 million) was placed on the three group games played by France in Russia, about 11 percent of the total.
The match between Switzerland and Brazil on June 17 has generated the most bets, with gamblers placing 17 million euros ($19.7 million) on that game.
Four years ago, French gamblers had bet 166 million euros ($192.8 million) at the same stage, and a total of 290 million euros ($336.7 million) at the end of the tournament that was held in Brazil
7 p.m.
England coach Gareth Southgate says his team is hungry to beat Colombia and end its run of 12 years without winning a World Cup knockout game.
Southgate says Tuesday’s game against Colombia in the round of 16 is "a great opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams went before and I think they’re relishing the chance."
He adds "you want to be involved in the games that matter and the lads have the chance to write their own stories now."
Southgate says his England team has taken note of how Colombia beat Poland 3-0 in the group stage and "we’ve got to make sure that our work without the ball is spot on" to avoid being punished on the counter.
6:52 p.m.
Brazil has advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Mexico.
Neymar opened the scoring in the 51st minute and provided the last pass for Firmino’s clincher in the 88th. Firmino tapped in from close range minutes after coming on as a replacement for Coutinho.
For the opener, Neymar slid toward goal and tapped in Willian’s low cross from the left.
The goals made Brazil the World Cup all-time scoring leader with 228 goals, surpassing Germany with 226.
6:20 p.m.
Switzerland doesn’t want to be caught napping early in its World Cup round-of-16 match against Sweden.
The Swiss have twice conceded the opening goal in Russia – first in their 1-1 draw with Brazil and again against Serbia – when Switzerland became the first team at this World Cup to win after going a goal down.
Coach Vladimir Petkovic says that "we have to be ready to play really from the get go in such a way to have the initiative on our side." Switzerland takes on Sweden in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The winner faces either England or Colombia in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss team is without the heart of its defense, with captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer suspended after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament.
6:15 p.m.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman says James Rodriguez could be fit to play against England in the World Cup round of 16.
The Bayern Munich attacking midfielder was substituted with a calf muscle problem during Colombia’s 1-0 win over Senegal last week and has undergone medical scans which Pekerman says shows he "doesn’t have a serious injury."
Pekerman says "we hope of course that he will be able to play" but he won’t guarantee Rodriguez will be in the starting lineup and "the team is quite stable" even without him.
If Rodriguez can’t play, Pekerman says Sevilla’s Luis Muriel will step in as he did against Senegal.
6:10 p.m.
Neymar has scored in the 51st minute to give Brazil a 1-0 lead over Mexico in the World Cup round-of-16 game at Samara.
The Brazil forward slid toward goal and tapped in after Willian sprinted down the left and fired in a low cross.
The goal made Brazil the World Cup all-time scoring leader with 227 goals, surpassing Germany with 226.
Mexico made a change at halftime, replacing 39-year-old defender Rafael Marquez with Miguel Layun.
Marquez is playing in his fifth World Cup, and was the first player picked in a starting 11 at five World Cups.
5: 45 p.m.
Mexico and Brazil are tied 0-0 at halftime in their World Cup round-of-16 match at Samara Stadium.
While Mexico controlled the possession early, Brazil appeared to have the best scoring chances.
Neymar’s right-foot shot was stopped by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa only moments before the Brazil playmaker rolled a pass to Philippe Coutinho, who fired over the goal in the 26th minute.
The Mexicans were playing to reach the elusive fifth game at the World Cup, meaning the quarterfinals. El Tri has not been able to get past the round-of-16 for the last six tournaments. Brazil is a five-time World Cup champion, the most recent in 2002. 
5:15 p.m.
Rafa Marquez has become first player to be included in the starting lineup at five World Cups. The veteran defender was used off the bench earlier in the tournament in Russia but started for Mexico in its round of 16 game against Brazil and FIFA noted his record at kickoff.
And, according to international analytics company Opta Sportsdata, Marquez (39 years, 139 days) is the oldest outfield player to start a World Cup knockout match since Stanley Matthews started for England against Uruguay in 1954 at the age 39 years, 145 days.
Marquez made his World Cup debut in a 2-1 win over Croatia on June 3, 2002 in Niigata, Japan.
5 p.m.
It’s a case of do or dye in Samara.
Brazil star Neymar’s blond highlights from the group stage are gone, and he’s back to his natural color for the round-of-16 match Monday against Mexico.
But his Mexico counterpart, Javier Hernandez – better known as Chicharito – has arrived in Samara Stadium as a bleached blond.
Some opined on social media that Chicharito was trolling Neymar to try and get inside his head before the match. 
4:25 p.m.
The Croatia squad has wasted no time getting to the coast of the Black Sea to begin preparations for its quarterfinal match against Russia.
Just hours after edging Denmark in a penalty shootout, Croatia left behind Nizhny Novgorod and arrived in Sochi on Monday afternoon, well ahead of Saturday’s match against the tournament hosts. Croatia was scheduled to have a light practice Monday night.
Several teams have come to Sochi early to prepare for the combination of heat and humidity. For Croatia it makes even more sense with its base camp for the tournament north of St. Petersburg. 
Croatia is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1998, when it placed third. 
4:10 p.m.
Tite has called in Filipe Luis to replace Marcelo for Brazil’s World Cup round of 16 game against Mexico.
Marcelo had back spasms in the opening minute of Brazil’s last group match against Serbia and didn’t recover in time to return to the starting lineup. Luis went on as a substitute at left-back against Serbia and retains that spot.
Mexico’s Hector Moreno was unavailable because of yellow card accumulation and has been replaced by Hugo Atala. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio also added 39-year-old defender Rafael Marquez to the starting lineup.
Brazil: Alisson, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Filipe Luis, Paulinho, Willian, Fagner.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Carlos Salcedo, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Hugo Atala, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guadrado, Edson Alvarez, Hirving Lozano, Jesus Gallardo.
3:20 p.m.
While Uruguay sweats on striker Edinson Cavani’s fitness ahead of the quarterfinal against France, Les Bleus must cope without influential midfielder Blaise Matuidi in Friday’s eagerly-awaited match.
The 31-year-old Matuidi, who has 70 international appearances, is suspended and assistant coach Guy Stephan acknowledges his experience and fighting spirit will be sorely missed against a rugged Uruguay side.
Stephan says "Blaise has the ability to hassle (opposition players), he always looks to stop the opponent, and he’s very good at defending but also at attacking."
Looking ahead to the Uruguay game, Stephan anticipates "a huge battle" against Cavani’s in-form side.
Cavani scored twice in the 2-1 win over European champion Portugal in the round of 16, but limped off with a leg injury in the 70th minute.
2:50 p.m.
On the eve of the biggest match of his international career, Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist could be forgiven for having one eye on what’s going on back home.
Granqvist’s second child is due on Tuesday – the same day that Sweden plays Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup. The center back has no plans yet to leave the team but hasn’t ruled out returning to Sweden if he needs to.
"My wife (Sophie) is doing great, no changes so far," Granqvist said Monday. "We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’m fully focused on the game tomorrow and my wife is very strong."
When asked about the situation, Sweden coach Janne Andersson said "we will deal with that when we get there."
Switzerland forward Breel Embolo has returned to Russia after going home to attend the birth of his first child.
Denmark’s players paid for a private jet for teammate Jonas Knudsen so he could fly home from the World Cup to see his newborn daughter during the group stage, while England midfielder Fabian Delph is currently back home for the birth of his third child.
2:20 p.m.
The Kremlin is comparing celebrations of Russia’s World Cup win over Spain to those for its victory over Nazi Germany.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, "what I’ve personally seen was in many ways probably comparable to the events of May 9, 1945," when the Soviet Union marked the wartime victory.
Putin did not attend the game, but Peskov says he was supporting Russia from afar. The only game Putin has seen in person is Russia’s opening 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, which he watched alongside the Saudi crown prince and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
1:25 p.m.
Denmark’s former goalkeeper, who’s also the father of the current goalie, is praising the team after it was eliminated from the World Cup in a penalty shootout.
                Peter Schmeichel tweeted Monday that he "can’t be more proud of my country, my son, his teammates, all the staff and our fantastic national coach."
He adds that the Danes "will realize how well we did" once "all the tears have dried out."
His son Kasper Schmeichel saved a penalty late in extra time Sunday night against Croatia and stopped two more spot kicks during the decisive shootout. But Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved three penalties to eliminate Denmark.
The 54-year-old Peter Schmeichel played for Manchester United and was in goal when Denmark beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the 1992 European Championship. Denmark went on to win that title.
1:15 p.m.
Denmark midfielder William Kvist says he is retiring from the national team.
Kvist punctured a lung and broke two ribs in the Danes’ World Cup-opening win against Peru. He was forced to go back to Denmark for treatment and tests but later returned to the team.
He played in 81 games for the national team, scoring two goals. He announced his decision on his Facebook page, writing, "thank you for many good years."
Kvist formerly played for Fulham and Stuttgart and will continue his club career with Copenhagen. He told Denmark’s public broadcaster he had hoped to play in every game for the Danes in the World Cup, but "nevertheless, I still feel that I have won something by getting back to the team."
Denmark was eliminated by Croatia in a penalty shootout on Sunday night. Another Denmark midfielder, Michael Krohn-Dehli, also announced after the game that it would be his last for the national team.
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