Japanese team leaves dressing room spotless even after devastating loss to Belgium

Ruben Holloway
July 4, 2018

A late goal from Nacer Chadli sealed a 3-2 comeback victory for Belgium and number of Japan players were left in tears after being knocked out of the tournament.

The round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan has kicked off in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. But favourites Belgium were able to catch up with a remarkable counterattack that ended the game at 3-2 and broke Japan's dream of advancing to the quarter-finals.

Four years after a hugely disappointing campaign in Brazil, Japan entered the World Cup as one of the lowest-ranked sides.

"Personally, I like to play, and sometimes when I stop I'm not as good in the following match". The 2018 FIFA World Cup has seen some great moments and unpredictable upsets but this Japanese act will certainly be remembered as one of the golden moments of the tournament.

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This rare move of graceful sportsmanship tugged on the heartstrings of football fans across the world, and many took to Twitter to applaud the Japanese fans for their dignity and grace.

"We lost, but they left everything on the pitch", said 23-year-old Sawa Okada. "We were leading and we were going to win, but I didn't expect this reversal of the result".

Not since Portugal in 1966 has a team come back from two goals down to win a game in the final phases; Eusebio's men on that occasion recovering to defeat North Korea in the quarter-final stage.

"We don't talk about that to our players".

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And their positive approach was rewarded in the 51st minute as Neymar and Willian combined to devastating effect. Neymar is through on goal, his shot is saved and it falls to Firmino to tap it into an empty net.


Despite failing to get on the scoresheet, the 25-year-old helped to commit Japan defenders in the build-up to Belgium's stoppage-time victor, as well as producing a perfectly-timed feint before Chadli slotted home.

"Romelu did so well because he has got the confidence of the manager, but also because he is at the age where he knows how to pay that confidence back".

"I don't think it is really useful to practise for a penalty shootout", he added, saying it was impossible to recreate the pressure players would feel in a real penalty situation.

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