Japan loses to Belgium but wins hearts after cleaning up stadium

Belgium 2018 FIFA World Cup Dries Mertens

Former Japan global Daisuke Ichikawa believed Belgium enjoyed a big slice of luck with their first goal, Jan Vertonghen's looping header from 20 yards, while ex-captain Ryuzo Morioka said: "They (Japan) shocked the world".

Brazilian forward Neymar was in control most of the match and racked up one goal and one assist.

'When you play against Brazil you need to understand they are the best team in the World Cup, ' Martinez told BBC.

Mexico have reached the last-16 in their previous six World Cups but have not made the last eight since 1986. "I have more experience, definitely", the victor of the 2015 PFA Player of the Year Award said.

The 32-year-old attacking midfielder, who did not start a game in Russian Federation, came on as a second half substitute in Rostov as Japan let a 2-0 lead slip and conceded a third in the final seconds of stoppage time.

Belgium stunned the Japanese side, however, with a flurry of late goals to take the win 3-2.

In a display of character and true sportsmanship, Japanese fans won hearts all over the world for staying back after games to help stadium workers clear trash from the stands all through FIFA World Cup 2018.

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Deschamps said Hernandez was fit and would remain at left-back with Benjamin Mendy unable to play due to a muscle issue. After their poor draw against World Cup debutants Iceland, Lionel Messi and Co were thrashed 3-0 by Croatia.

Belgium face Japan in the last-16 with a potential tie against Brazil in the quarter-finals.

"I feel like we've started to connect the team with the public again", he said.

"But I think we saw a different Romelu in the second half with his two goals [against Panama]. We have good training sessions, and I'm sure we'll be ready tomorrow".

"Anyway, I'll do my best".

Iran also opened with a smash-and-grab raid of a win over Morocco but they were always up against it in a group that also featured Spain and Portugal, while Saudi Arabia beat Egypt in a final fixture that was the deadest of dead rubbers.

But, as revealed by Federation Internationale de Football Association general coordinator Priscilla Janssens on her social media handle, Japan's squad went the extra mile to salute their hosts in Russia as they bowed out.

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