ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia, July 2 (Reuters) - Belgium passed their test of character with a display of true fighting spirit, coach Roberto Martinez said after they came from 2-0 behind to beat Japan 3-2 in injury time.
“That’s what happens in the World Cup,” said the Spaniard, who was hired after a side packed with English Premier League talent collapsed against Wales in the Euro 2016 quarter-final.
“It was a test of character and a test of the team,” said Martinez after substitute Nacer Chadli slammed the ball home four minutes into stoppage time, breaking the hearts of Japan fans whose side scored twice early in the second half.
“It tells you everything about this group of players.”
Run ragged at times by the skilful and determined Samurai Blue, ranked 58 places behind them at 61st in FIFA’s world rankings, the Red Devils will look hard at their defensive frailties and difficulties in turning pressure into goals before they face Brazil in the quarter-final in just four days.
Reporting by Alastair Macdonald ; @macdonaldrtr