first_imgJapan lost a nerve-wracking, thrill-a-minute round of 16 match at FIFA World Cup 2018 to Belgiium in Rostov-on-Don, and the skies above Mumbai wept in agony.Well, not really, of course. That last bit was based on Anand Mahindra’s rather poetic take on the Round of 16 game, which the Samurai Blue looked set to win comfortably — until the 69th minute.”Sport is noble, sport is uplifting. Yes and yes. But sport can be cruel too, I have to admit. Today, Mumbai skies are grey and pouring with rain, and I feel they are weeping for Japan,” the Mahindra Group chairman tweeted.The game was 0-0 at halftime. Then, Japan scored twice.Genki Haraguchi finished clinically just minutes into the second half. Just moments later, Takashi Inui launched a veritable torpedo into Thibaut Courtois’s net. Would Belgium’s star-studded squad, seen as potential champions, go the Germany way?Also read – Heavy rain and bridge collapse a double whammy for Mumbaikars Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois stretching — in vain — to stop Japan’s second goal. (Photo: Reuters)Not so. Two headers — the first looping and sublime, the second textbook and point-blank — brought Belgium back to level pegging.And then, with just seconds of stoppage time left, Nacer Chadli tapped the ball into Eiji Kawashima’s goal. Blue was the colour of heartbreak, but ecstasy converged in a huddle of red.READ | Belgium coach on Japan’s heartbreak: ‘That’s what happens in the World Cup’ Nacer Chadli scoring the winning goal. (Photo: Reuters) Belgium’s Vincent Kompany, Axel Witsel and Thomas Meunier celebrating after the match, just feet away from Japan’s Gen Shoji and Yuya Osako. (Photo: Reuters)”To all my Japanese friends: I stand and applaud you and your magnificent team today,” Anand Mahindra wrote.advertisementSport is noble, Sport is uplifting. Yes & yes. But Sport can be cruel too, I have to admit. Today,Mumbai skies are grey and pouring with rain & I feel they are weeping for Japan. To all my Japanese friends:I stand & applaud you & your magnificent team today.. pic.twitter.com/Ogp31Hl325anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) July 3, 2018They were magnificent after the game, too. Citing a news report, the Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor wrote: “Despite losing to Belgium, the Japanese team cleaned their dressing-room and left a thank-you note to their Russian hosts.”Even their disconsolate fans cleaned up the stadium. What a remarkable people the Japanese are!”Respect! #Japan team leave #WorldCup dressing room spotless with ‘thank you’ note in Russian despite devastating loss to Belgium. Total class. They really deserved to win! pic.twitter.com/MDzcYAUQASArsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) July 3, 2018As for Belgium, they can’t celebrate for too long. The mighty Brazilians await them in the next round.last_img

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