AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 19: Brazil Too Good For Valiant Mexico; Belgium In Epic Comeback
Brazil and Belgium won their Round of 16 encounters on Monday in order to set-up a match between the two teams in the quarter-finals. Goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino saw Brazil defeat Mexico 2-0. Belgium were down by two goals in the second half to Japan, however the Red Devils avoided the shock by scoring three times in the last twenty minutes to secure a massive come-from-behind victory.
Brazil v Mexico 2-0
Mexico lost their seventh consecutive World Cup knockout stage match as they went down to Brazil 2-0. It was a very positive performance from the five-time World Cup champions who qualify for the quarter-finals for the eighth straight time.
Mexico caused Brazil fits in certain parts of the game, which included a bright opening from El Tri. However, Juan Carlos Osorio’s men missed the cutting edge in attack. Brazil began the second half in much improved fashion. Six minutes after the break, Neymar made it 1-0 with an empty net tap-in after Willian’s driving run into the box and fine cross. Mexico had promising moments, but few clear-cut chances. Substitute Roberto Firmino made sure of the result when he also scored from short range after Guillermo Ochoa saved the ball into the path of the child.
Match Rating - 7: There was good flow to this one with both teams trying to assert their own style on the day. The difference for Brazil was their superior creativity and efficiency in the final third.
Belgium v Japan 3-2
An extraordinary comeback down the stretch propelled Belgium to a 3-2 win over a terrific Japan side. Belgium had Japan defending for their lives in a first half-hour dominated by Roberto Martinez’s men. However, Japan grew into the match and by the half would have been viewed as the happier side based on performance.
The Japanese side exploded in the early parts of the second half. Genk Haraguchi (48’) and Takashi Inui (52’) scored within four minutes of each other to give Japan a surprising 2-0 lead.
Belgium pushed on though and tried to make it a game. The first goal came, somewhat fortuitously, in the 69th minute with a looping header by Jan Vertonghen. Belgium were pushing hard by then and sensing blood. Five minutes later Belgian equalized thanks to Marouane Fellaini’s header from close in. And just as the match looked destined for overtime, Belgium scored a winner at the death. A lightning quick counter-attack with less than 30 seconds to go, that began from a Japan corner-kick, saw Belgium score through Nacer Chadli and celebrate the most amazing of comebacks.
Match Rating - 9: An exhilarating encounter. A good first half gave way to a five-goal second half which featured some great football and even greater drama.
There were no Greek connections to show for today’s matches.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Belgium’s winner had it all. In the late match-winner to cap off an epic comeback, Kevin De Bruyne goes one a fantastic run through the middle of the pitch. He plays the perfect ball to the right and Romelu Lukaku dummies for Nacer Chadli to shoot home.
- Neymar and Roberto Firmino help Brazil progress to the quarter-finals
- Mexico lose seventh straight Round of 16 tie
- Neymar’s histrionics causing commotion
- Japan looked like winning against Belgium until last 20 minutes
- Belgium show character in comeback thriller
- Brazil and Belgium now meet in Kazan on Friday for spot in the final four
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
The last two matches of the Round of 16 will be played on Tuesday. Sweden and Switzerland play in the early match in what promises to be an evenly-matched contest. Then later, Colombia and England face-off in a very intriguing match for a spot in the quarters.
by George Tsitsonis
Image Source: Guardian.com