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Heartbreak for Japan and Mexico as Brazil and Belgium makes it to the quarter finals in Russia

Updated : July 03, 2018 08:51 AM IST

With soccer powers dropping out of the World Cup left and right, Monday's knockout matches in Russia were about passing tests. Neymar had already avoided the fate of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by helping his Brazil team get out of its group. But could he carry the Brazilians when it mattered? Answer: a goal and an assist as the five-time champs shut down Mexico 2-0.

Belgium, for all the talent it showed in winning its group, faced lingering questions about whether it had the mental toughness to go much beyond that. And many wondered whether Japan deserved to be in the round of 16 at all. The answers, delivered over a five-goal second half that saw the Europeans come back from two goals down to find an injury-time winner: Japan absolutely belonged, and Belgium has the stomach to fight back.

Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Brazil's Roberto Firmino, left, celebrates with Brazil's Neymar, right, after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil's Roberto Firmino, left, celebrates with Brazil's Neymar, right, after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Mexico's Jesus Gallardo, right, vies for the ball with Brazil's Willian, center, during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Mexico's Jesus Gallardo, right, vies for the ball with Brazil's Willian, center, during the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Brazil's Neymar celebrates as Mexico's Miguel Layun and teammates Hirving Lozano embrace at the end of their round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. Brazil won 2-0. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Brazil's Neymar celebrates as Mexico's Miguel Layun and teammates Hirving Lozano embrace at the end of their round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. Brazil won 2-0. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Mexico players react at the end of the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. Brazil won 2-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Mexico players react at the end of the round of 16 match between Brazil and Mexico at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. Brazil won 2-0. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Japan's Genki Haraguchi, bottom left, scores his first side goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Japan's Genki Haraguchi, bottom left, scores his first side goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Japan's Takashi Inui, center, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Japan's Takashi Inui, center, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Belgium's Marouane Fellaini celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Belgium's Marouane Fellaini celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Belgium's Nacer Chadli, second right, celebrates after scoring his third side's goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Belgium's Nacer Chadli, second right, celebrates after scoring his third side's goal during the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
A Japan supporters cries after losing the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A Japan supporters cries after losing the round of 16 match between Belgium and Japan at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Rostov Arena, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Monday, July 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Published : July 03, 2018 08:33 AM IST
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