Japan Wins Group H; Belgium Takes Second, Will Face Brazil in Second Round
Japan scored two goals in the second half to defeat Tunisia and win Group H, while Belgium held off Russia, 3-2, to take second place in the group.
JAPAN 2-0 TUNISIA
After the match reached halftime scoreless, Japan substitute Hiroaki Morishima wasted no time giving his side the lead, collecting a loose ball in the penalty area and slotting it into the back of the net in the 48th minute. Japan took control of the match following their goal and would get their second through Nidetoshi Nakata in the 75th minute, sneaking a cross from Daisuke Ichikawa past goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel with a downward header.
Tunisia continued to fight in the last 15 minutes of the match, as Ali Zitouni created two opportunities, including an effort that hit the crossbar in the 82nd minute.
Japan advances to face the second-place team from Group C, Turkey, in the Round of 16.
BELGIUM 3-2 RUSSIA
Belgium took an early lead over Russia on a well-placed free kick from Johan Walem and then held on to defeat Russia, 3-2, to advance to the Second Round. Russia, needing a draw to advance, equalized just after halftime, beginning a flurry of second-half goals. Vladimir Beschastnykh put the ball into an empty net in the 52nd minute after collecting a rebound to draw the match even.
Belgium, needing the win, seized momentum in the 78th minute as Wesley Sonck headed in a Walem corner for another lead. Veteran goalscorer Marc Wilmots added a goal of his own in the 82nd minute to give his side a 3-1 lead. Russia, however, would not lie down, cutting the lead to one with a Dmitri Sychev goal in the 89th minute. Belgium would hold off the Russian attempts to equalize through stoppage time, escaping with the three points they needed after the 3-2 result.
Belgium goes through as the second-place team in Group H and will face the unenviable task of taking on Brazil in the Round of 16. Brazil has outscored its opposition 11-3 in winning its first three games.