Tuesday June 4th, 2002
Japan vs Belgium in Saitama (2:2)
Can home advantage help Japan against Belgium?
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
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 that.
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 ball out.
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
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.
Marc Wilmots breaks the deadlock with a beautiful overhead kick - 57 mins.
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 Japan
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.
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!
2 - Belgium 2
Man of the Match:
Junichi Inamoto - Showed flashes of great individual skill and was unlucky to get what
could have been the winning goal disallowed.
Peter Van der Heyden (21 mins)
Kazuyuki Toda (31 mins)
Junichi Inamoto (54 mins)
Gert Verheyen (62 mins)
Jacky Peeters (64 mins)
Eric Van Meir (82 mins)
12 Seigo Narazaki; 3 Naoki Matsuda, 4 Ryuzo Morioka (17 Tsuneyasu Miyamoto - 72 mins), 16
Koji Nakata; 5 Junichi Inamoto, 7 Hidetoshi Nakata, 18 Shinji Ono (14 Alessandro Santos -
64 mins), 21 Kazuyuki Toda, 22 Daisuke Ichikawa; 11 Takayuki Suzuki (8 Hiroaki Morishima -
71 mins), 13 Atsushi Yanagisawa.
1 Geert De Vlieger; 4 Eric Van Meir, 12 Peter Van der Heyden, 15 Jacky Peeters, 16 Daniel
Van Buyten; 6 Timmy Simons, 7 Marc Wilmots, 8 Bart Goor, 10 Johan Walem (9 Wesley Sonck -
71 mins), 11 Gert Verheyen (20 Branko Strupar - 83 mins), 18 Yves Vanderhaeghe.
Referee: William Matt
Denmark, France, Senegal, Uruguay.
Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain,
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South Korea, United States.
Korea First Round Matches.
Cameroon, Germany, Republic of Ireland,
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Belgium, Japan, Russia, Tunisia.
Japan First Round Matches.
2002 World Cup Finals - Knockout Stage.
Group Tables - Leading Goalscorers.
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