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Marouane Fellaini celebrates with his Belgium team-mates

Phew! Fellaini helps Belgium bounce back

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Marouane Fellaini became the fourth Manchester United player to score in Russia 2018 as Belgium produced a Reds-style comeback to beat Japan and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The big midfielder – whose new contract with the club was announced by ManUtd.com on Friday - came off the bench to play an influential part in the Belgians’ breathtaking recovery.

In yet another of this tournament’s many exhilarating matches, the much-fancied Europeans rallied from being 2-0 down to the Asian underdogs to winning 3-2 with essentially the last kick in injury time.
Fellaini heads in Belgium's second goal against Japan
Nacer Chadli, a winger for relegated West Bromwich Albion, scored the decisive goal after Romelu Lukaku dummied a ball in from the right at the end of a clinical counter-attack launched by Kevin De Bruyne.

Fellaini’s key contribution to the cause was his equaliser, a trademark towering header to connect with Eden Hazard’s left-wing cross and make the score 2-2 with 16 minutes to go.
Jan Vertonghen had previously pulled one back for Belgium with a very different kind of header, a looping effort to beat Eiji Kawashima, as the Tottenham Hotspur defender atoned for the lapse which had allowed Genki Haraguchi to collect a through-ball and sweep Japan into a shock 48th-minute lead.

When former United star Shinji Kagawa teed up Takashi Inui to crack home the Asian side’s second goal four minutes later, it seemed Belgium would become the latest big team to tumble out of the competition after the demise of Germany, Argentina, Spain and Euro 2016 winners Portugal. That inkling only increased when Lukaku headed a great chance wide from inside the six-yard box.

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Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini has signed a new contract with the Reds.

However, De Rode Duivels’ manager Roberto Martinez, the former boss of Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton, knew he still had some trump cards to play. The Spaniard sent on Fellaini and Chadli in a double substitution in the 65th minute and within half an hour, both men had scored to book Belgium a quarter-final clash with Brazil – the national team of new Reds signing Fred – on Friday.

UNITED’S WORLD CUP SCORERS… SO FAR!

Belgium’s 3-2 triumph has kept alive Romelu Lukaku’s bid to win the Golden Boot, even if the Reds striker failed to score for the first time in this tournament. After netting twice against both Panama and Tunisia, he was rested for the England game, leaving him with four goals to Harry Kane’s current tally of five.

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Read more about Romelu Lukaku’s latest goalscoring landmark for Belgium.

The other United stars who made it onto World Cup scoresheets prior to Marouane Fellaini's equaliser against Japan were Jesse Lingard, with that excellent strike in the 6-1 panning of Panama, and Marcos Rojo, whose dramatic winning goal at Nigeria's expense kept Argentina in Russia for one more round before they were eliminated by Paul Pogba’s France.