Nacer Chadli was the hero in Rostov as his 93rd-minute winner ensured Belgium’s passage into the quarter-finals at the expense of Japan in a pulsating 3-2 victory.
Roberto Martinez’s team were in real danger of exiting the tournament at the last 16 stage as his Belgium side were 2-0 down seven minutes into the second half, but goals from Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini and a last-gasp goal from Chadli were enough to set up a mouth-watering tie with Brazil.
Neither side could find a goal in the first half as both threatened, but two minutes into the second half Vertgonhgen was unable to take a Japanese through-ball in his stride which allowed Genki Haraguchi through and to rifle a low shot past Thibault Courtois.
Eden Hazard’s effort a moment later ricocheted off the post as Belgium pushed for an equaliser straight after. However, Takashi Inui added a second for the Samurai Blue, as his stunning effort left Courtois with no chance, as he put his country on the brink of their first-ever World Cup quarter-final.
Belgium were rewarded for their constant pressure as Vertonghen made amends for his earlier error as his looping header brought Belgium back into the game with 20 minutes to go. Substitute marouane Fellaini equalised in typical fashion as his bullet header was just out of reach of Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima.
It seemed that Belgium were heading for extra time, in what would have been the sixth time in 10 attempts, however, West Bromwich Albion winger Nacer Chadli stepped up to seal his side’s place in the last eight of the tournament as he finished off an excellent counter-attack on the 93rd minute and send his country into raptures.