Japan loses to Belgium but wins hearts after cleaning up stadium

Belgium 2018 FIFA World Cup Dries Mertens

Free-scoring Belgium target 16 goals to get free TVs

After the soul-crushing manner of Japan's 3-2 last-16 World Cup loss to Belgium on Monday (July 2), when the Red Devils netted their victor deep into added time with practically the final kick of the game, one would think civic-mindedness would be the last thing on the Samurai Blue's minds. In Belgium vs Japan match, the former appears to be the clear favourite.

Martinez's men set up the mouthwatering clash after narrowly avoiding a disaster against Japan, with Nacer Chadli coming off the bench to secure a 3-2 victory.

World Cup fever has gripped Japan despite a time difference that meant Monday's match aired from 3:00am on Tuesday local time.

"Neymar is probably the best player I've ever played with or against".

Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico was the Neymar show as the 26-year-old scored the first - his 57th global goal in 89 appearances - before setting up the second for substitute Roberto Firmino late in the match.

Despite advancing out of the group stage in the previous six World Cups, Mexico has failed to reach the quarterfinal in any of those tournaments.

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Belgium became the first side to win a World Cup knockout game from two goals down since 1970, making the loss all the more gut-wrenching for Japan and their supporters. Few expected the Blue Samurai to get out of their group, not least because of the change at the top.

The good sportsmanship is another example of how Japan - players and fans - have earned the admiration of everyone at the games in Russian Federation.

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.

"But we were also thinking that we could score goals to win".

Even FIFA's official World Cup account highlighted the Japanese contribution to the tournament in a tweet after the team's elimination.

"Iran was very close and Korea beat Germany so not only Japan but also other Asian nations need to improve a lot".

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