Japan loses to Belgium but wins hearts after cleaning up stadium

Ronaldo returns to Sochi for Saturday's last-16 showdown against Uruguay

Ronaldo returns to Sochi for Saturday's last-16 showdown against Uruguay

According to the Sport Review, Didier said to BBC Sport: "For me there was always a difference between being in the dressing room and being around the lads - joking and having fun - and the moment I stepped out on the field".

The Samurai Blue looked on track to reach their first quarter-final in three last-16 attempts after going 2-0 ahead early in the second half, only to see Belgium roar back and snatch a 3-2 win with an explosive counter-attack deep into stoppage time.

The shock of the defeat - the first time a team has lost a World Cup knockout match outright after leading by two goals since West Germany defeated England 3-2 in a 1970 quarterfinal - will clearly take some time to come to terms with.

Brazil's 2-0 victory over Mexico was the Neymar show as the 26-year-old scored the first - his 57th worldwide goal in 89 appearances - before setting up the second for substitute Roberto Firmino late in the match.

The World Cup is now in the "final sixteen" stage, which will then see the eight winning teams go through to the quarter finals. The disappointment was obvious, with some of the players falling on their knees in despair after the final whistle, while others just cried.

Thomas Meunier said he would be facing the best player he has ever played with when Belgium take on Neymar and Brazil in the World Cup quarter-final, saying of his Paris-Saint Germain team-mate: "I do not know how to stop him".

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"We asked visitors to watch the game calmly but everyone, myself included, couldn't help but jump and shout when Japan scored", the priest, Taiko Ishida, told AFP.

"We need to go through to the next round constantly with more teams". Palmeri noted that the photo was uploaded by a delegate from Federation Internationale de Football Association, the organization that runs the World Cup.

It's exactly why the expanded tournament in 2026 will be a positive to spread the "wealth" that Europe has dominated for so long in terms of access to the tournament and as Japan showed in this outstanding performance against Belgium, given the opportunity Asia can match the world's best.

The best he could hope for, he said Sunday, was for his players to play "Japan-like" - contest every ball, control the ball, play dogged defense and stage lightening counterattacks.

"We get along very well". Even against the likes of Belgium, they were confident. "I have to go to work now, but I can work hard because that was a good game".

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