FIFA World Cup 2018 Last 16: Brazil, Belgium advance at expense of Mexico, Japan

Thursday, July 5, 2018

On Monday, Brazil defeated Mexico 2–0 and Belgium defeated Japan 3–2 in the FIFA football World Cup in the Last 16 knockout phase. Brazil is now scheduled to play Belgium in the quarter-finals.

Brazil vs Mexico

Brazil faced Mexico in Samara Arena. Mexico had greater ball possession in the match. Before the half-hour mark, Neymar, Thiago Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho had attempts for goal but their attempts were blocked or saved by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Both sides were tied goalless at the halftime.

In the second half, Brazil opened the scoring in the 51st minute when Neymar scored a close-range shot from Willian's assist. Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela had their attempts for equalising for Mexico but were unsuccessful. Chicharito was substituted out in the 60th minute. Brazil made two substitutions in the final ten minutes of the 90-minute game, as Fernandinho and Roberto Firmino were substituted in for Paulinho and Coutinho. In the 88th minute, just two minutes after coming on the field, Firmino scored a goal, doubling the lead for Brazil. The South Americans won the match 2–0.

After the match, Mexico's coach Juan Carlos Osorio said, "Being able to play at such a level with a team like Brazil, it shows Mexico is a good team. We just didn't have that extra quality they had in front of goal. We were able to play a balanced game and it says a lot about us and our style. We need to keep developing and we hope our players will come and play in Europe so they can play every weekend against the best clubs in the world, and then our national team will improve."

Belgium v Japan

Belgium faced Japan at the Rostov Arena. Belgium had greater ball possession versus Japan, who were the only Asian team left in the tournament. In the first ten minutes, Japan's Shinji Kagawa and Gen Shoji missed their attempts for goals. Belgium's Axel Witsel, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany had attempts to put Belgium in lead but both the sides remained goalless in the first half.

Three minutes in the second half, Genki Haraguchi opened the scoring for Japan, from Gaku Shibasaki's assist. Four minutes later, Takashi Inui scored from Kagawa's assist doubling the lead for Japan. In the 65th minute, Yannick Carrasco was replaced by Nacer Chadli. Four minutes later, Jan Vertonghen scored the first goal for Belgium. Fellaini scored an equaliser in the 74th minute from Hazard's assist. In the injury time, Chadli added the third goal from Thomas Meunier's assist which proved to be the match-winning goal.

After the match, Japan's coach Akira Nishino said, "I am devastated. Yes we took the lead but we couldn't win. It might have been a very small difference but I felt there was nothing in it. Maybe it was my decisions as a coach or my tactics, and we couldn't keep up with Belgium, who upped their game." He added, "I don't want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact."

July 2, 2018
1800 SATM (UTC+0400)
Brazil 2–0 Mexico Samara Arena, Samara Russia
Attendance: 41,970
Referee:   Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Neymar Jr   51'
Roberto Firmino   88'
Filipe Luís   43'
Casemiro   59'
0–0 (HT) Edson Álvarez   38'
Héctor Herrera   55'
Carlos Salcedo   77'
Andrés Guardado   90+2'

July 2, 2018
2100 MSK (UTC+0300)
Belgium 3–2 Japan Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Attendance: 41,466
Referee:   Malang Diedhiou (Senegal)
Jan Vertonghen   69'
Marouane Fellaini   74'
Nacer Chadli   90+4'
0–0 (HT) Genki Haraguchi   48'
Takashi Inui   52'
Gaku Shibasaki   40'