Belgium put out what looked like a defense minded team but
there are a host of attacking midfielders on the pitch who have all been known to score.
The Japanese fans are at last excited and there's a good atmoshere in the stadium.
Nakata showed his early pace on the left, much to the
crowd's immense pleasure.
On another run, the Japanese star received a slight knock
but after hobbling a few steps took up his place again to spearhead Japan forward.
The Japanese were proving quite a handful with their
attacking speed and the Belgians had to make their own physical presence felt to slow them
down -- and Peter Van der Heyden went into the book, in the 21st minute, for doing just
The best early chance for Belgium came in the 28th minute,
when Marc Wilmots headed Bart Goor's cross at Seigo Narazaki, who reacted well to keep the
Belgium stayed compact throughout the first-half, while the
Japanese sent long balls forward and ran into obstructions.
After 45 minutes, it looked like a game of boys against
men. Japan really need to be a little more creative or put on some weight, to stop getting
nudged off the ball.
Half-time: Japan 0 -- Belgium 0
Three minutes after the restart, Marc Wilmots latched onto
a header from a throw-in but hooked the ball over Seigo Narazaki and his bar.
Kazuyuki Toda was lucky not to get his second yellow card
for a sliding tackle on Gert Verheyen in the 51st minute.
This match has had the most fouls so far, mostly because
it's played at such a frantic pace.
-- GOAL -- 0-1
Marc Wilmots breaks the deadlock with a beautiful overhead kick -- 57
-- GOAL -- 1-1
Two minutes later Japan's tactics pay off as Takayuki Suzuki,
running into the area, gets his foot to Ono's visionary pass from the half-way line.
If the stadium had atmosphere before, it's unbelievable now
as Ono shaves the crossbar from a free-kick, shortly after his long ball helped bring
-- GOAL -- 2-1
With 20 minutes still to go, the stadium is like a volcano erupting as Arsenal's Junichi
Inamoto runs through three defenders to plant Japan in the lead.
-- GOAL -- 2-2
Five minutes later Japan's fans are momentarily silenced when Peter Van
der Heyden, beating the offside trap on the edge of the area, neatly lobs Seigo
Narazaki as he comes off his line.
With a little over five minutes to go, Branko Strupar is
brought on to try and restore the lead for Belgium.... but it's Inamoto who shows
fantastic skill in the Belgian area to turn two defenders and chip the ball over Geert De
Vlieger's diving body -- only for the goal to be disallowed.
The first goal, from Marc Wilmots, sparked this game into a
frenzy and the action didn't stop. Japan threw everything forward in the closing minutes
that Belgium hardly had a chance to catch their breath.
Yes, home advantage..... What an electrifying game!
Japan 2 -- Belgium 2