Match 1: Brazil v Mexico (2-0)
This promised to be an open and entertaining match and that’s exactly what we got.
Mexico started the brighter of the two nations but Brazil then began to dominate as the first half went on. It was end to end stuff but there were no clear cut scoring chances.
Five minutes into the second half, Brazil went in front. The tournament favourites carried the momentum from the first half over into the second. Neymar back-heeled the ball to Willian, who dribbled his way into the box and fired the ball across goal. Neymar sprinted towards the back post after his back heel and his effort was rewarded as Willian’s pass found him unmarked, and he tapped the ball in.
Mexico goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, was keeping his team in the match but Mexico looked tired and Brazil were now having more attempts on goal.
Then in the 88th minute Brazil doubled their advantage in what was a carbon copy of the first goal. Neymar was involved again as he was played in behind the weary Mexico defence. He then poked the ball across the box and into the path of Roberto Firmino, who was unmarked at the back post and he tapped the ball into the net.
The match finished 2-0 and the five-time World Cup winners march on to the quarter-finals.
Match 2: Belgium v Japan (3-2)
Belgium were heavily favoured heading into the match and they really turned up the heat midway through the first half. They were creating chance after chance and Japan just couldn’t get out of their own territory.
However, Japan weathered the storm and started playing some good technical football, passing in triangles and creating opportunities. They almost took the lead just before halftime when Thibaut Courtois let the ball slip through his fingers and almost over the goal line. The Belgian goalkeeper recovered just in time to stop an embarrassing moment.
After a goalless first half, the second was a goal frenzy. Japan blitzed the Belgians with two quick goals just after the break. Haraguchi was played in behind the defence after Jan Vertonghen missed the ball, and he fired it into the bottom left past Courtois.
Belgium almost had the perfect response after Eden Hazard struck the post but in the 52nd minute, Japan doubled their lead. Kompany’s clearing header landed to Shinji Kagawa, who beautifully took the ball down and laid it off to Inui. It was a rocket of a shot from Inui, who was at the edge of the D, and Courtois could do nothing about it as it sailed past him and into the net.
Just after the hour mark, Jan Vertonghen made up for his defensive mistake earlier to grab a goal back for his country. It was from a high scuffed clearance that Vertonghen looped his header over the goalkeeper and into the goal.
Belgium brought on Fellaini to add some extra height and cause the relatively small Japan team problems. He did just that as he headed home the equalizer in the 73rd minute.
It was all Belgium in the final moments, but a great double save from Eiji Kawashima kept Japan in the match. That didn’t matter in the end as Nacer Chadli rescued Belgium from extra-time after a well worked passing move on the counter attack with the final kick of the game.
It will now be a mouth watering clash between Brazil and Belgium in the quarter-final.
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