The 2018 edition of FIFA has been full of surprises, inexperienced teams have shown impressive character and have been giant killers. Germany, the defending champions were knocked out in the first round, while Spain, Argentina and Portugal could not surpass Russia, France and Uruguay respectively to qualify for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The Round of 16 has been very interesting so far, there have been some thrillers to witness in the round so far. France vs Argentina was nothing short of spectacular, the game shifted from one side to other, which eventually ended 4-3 in France’s favour. Whereas, Spain were eliminated by the hosts, Russia, in a dramatic penalty shootout. Croatia, one of the strongest side of this World Cup, also struggled to overcome Denmark and just registered the win in a penalty shootout.
Brazil showed their class against the in-form Mexican side and went on to win the game by 2-0 after a back and forth contest. Neymar and Roberto Firmino scored the two important goals in their outing to take the five-times world champions closer to another glory.
Arguably the best match of the tournament so far was Belgium vs Japan. After a competitive goal-less first half, the second half saw five goals. Japan took the lead in the 48 minute and doubled that lead 4 minutes later courtesy of a sublime goal by Takashi Inui. Belgium were trailing by two goals with less than 30 minutes on the clock. At that moment, Jan Vertonghen headed the ball from an incredibly acute angle to beat Japanese goal-keeper to score a goal. It was then the Belgian veteran, Marouane Fellaini who came as a substitute and scored the equalizer with a header off a perfect-looking cross from Eden Hazard.
The scores were tied and the game heading into the extra time was on the cards. But, in the last 30 seconds, the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois received the ball from a Japanese corner kick and he rolled it to Kevin de Bruyne who ran all the way to near opponents’ penalty area before passing it to a streaking Thomas Meunier who provided a low cross into the penalty area where Manchester United’s striker Romelu Lukaku dodged the defenders with a dummy attempt and allowed the ball to get to Nacer Chadli who did rest of the job to give Belgium a 3-2 in the all-important contest.