FIFA WC 2018: Japanese were tired, says Belgium's Nacer Chadli
Substitute Nacer Chadli, whose last-gasp winner saw Belgium rally to beat Japan 3-2, says he saw the opposition players running out of steam while he was warming up on the sidelines
Belgium dramatically recovered from two goals down to Japan to secure a last-gasp 3-2 win on Monday and set up a World Cup quarter-final against Brazil. Roberto Martinez's side came very close to crashing out of the tournament in Rostov as they found themselves behind to second-half goals from Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui.
From 0-2 down, Belgium clawed back a goal from Jan Vertonghen before substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli, who hit the 94th-minute winner, scored to complete the fight back.
Belgium's Nacer Chadli celebrates his winner against Japan
Chadli's superbly worked goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time was the final act of an epic Last 16 battle. Belgium became the first team in 48 years to successfully overturn a 0-2 deficit in a World Cup knockout game. "In the first 60 minutes, we were a little roughed up by the Japanese, who were very well-prepared for our tactics," said Belgium's match-winner Chadli.
"We started to win our duels and showed that we had more desire than them. It [winning goal] was like a dream. The coach made the changes because he wanted more power in the middle and we managed to bring that.
"When I was warming up (to come on), I saw the Japanese were tiring." Belgium captain Eden Hazard, who was the man of the match in Rostov, sounded relieved. "During the first half we were quite good, but things went wrong at the start of the second half, both goals were avoidable, but the reaction we showed was great," said Hazard. "These are the type of matches we need, so we are definitely all very happy," Hazard added.
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