Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Roberto Martinez proud of Belgium survival after win over Japan

Roberto Martinez proud of Belgium survival after win over Japan

"We have to fight and defend as a group and attack as a group". Nevertheless, the Samurai Blue should not be underestimated, having earned a shock win over the talented Colombians in their Group H opener. The victor will face Brazil, who knocked out Mexico earlier today with a 2-0 victory.

When the mood takes him, Mertens is utterly ruthless in front of goal and he has netted 56 goals overall in the past two seasons with Napoli in Italy's Serie A.

Dries Mertens, who is likely to be back alongside Eden Hazard in support of Lukaku after Martinez fielded a virtual reserve team against England, said the players were well aware that they had come up short in the past four years.

Belgium players celebrate after their late victor.

Martinez, the former Everton manager, said: "Let's congratulate Japan, they played the flawless game". Japan emerged against most expectations from a tricky group containing Colombia, Poland and Senegal - three sides with greater firepower.

Japan, while needing to halt a team on a 22-match unbeaten run, also have the incentive of targeting a World Cup quarter-final place for the first time.

Kagawa, who has 31 worldwide goals, is likely to play as a playmaker behind the lone striker in Nishino's favored 4-2-3-1 formation.

The two sides have met once before at a World Cup, when Japan co-hosted the tournament in 2002.

To its vast credit, Japan kept pressing for a goal that would've sent it to its first quarterfinal.

The victor of the Belgium-England match would take Group G and while there were strong arguments as to why perhaps winning for either side wasn't important due to future draws, Belgium got the job done as it won 1-0.Adrian Januzaj scored the game's lone goal on a blast in the 51st minute. In the last match, Japan lost 1-0 to an already eliminated Poland, while Senegal lost 1-0 to Colombia.

So Sunday's game against Belgium is a chance for them to restore some credit.

"Mentally and physically, you just get the feeling the players are desperate to be on the pitch". The result saw both sides progress at Algeria's expense.

Manager Roberto Martinez stayed true to his promise, resting nine regulars against England. However, like Martinez, he has three key players on yellow cards - goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, captain Makoto Hasebe and star midfielder Takashi Inui.

Courtois found Kevin De Bruyne with a long throw and the Manchester City playmaker freed Meunier with a terrific pass that left Japan struggling to cover the break. In a much better second half display by both teams, Belgium scored the first goal of the match as Marc Wilmots broke the deadlock with a superb overhead kick. After beating Colombia in their opening pool fixture and then contesting an exciting 2-2 draw with Senegal, Japan had won over numerous neutrals, but they lost that credit with the way they played against Poland.

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