World Cup 2018 Day 19: Brazil star hits back, Belgium get out of jail, England ready for tough Colombia test

The World Cup juggernaut continued on its merry way on Monday, with the two last 16 ties both producing some fantastic entertainment.

Tournament favourites Brazil battled past a spirited Mexico side, while Belgium recovered from two goals down to eventually see off Japan.

The two winners will now meet in the quarter-finals on Friday in a match that could be one of the best of the tournament. Read on as we look at the talking points from Day 19 of the World Cup.

Neymar hits back

After another game in which he was accused of diving and feigning injury, Neymar hit back at his critics.

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio blasted his antics, claiming that “fake fouls” had been responsible for Mexico’s exit from the tournament.

“I think it’s a shame for football,” he said. “We wasted a lot of time because of one player. We stopped too often.

“I think this is a very negative example for the world of football and all the children who are following this game.

“This is a strong sport, a man’s sport and I think there shouldn’t be so much acting.”

The incident that riled Osorio most came when Miguel Layun stepped on Neymar’s ankle, with the Brazilian star’s dramatic overreaction arguably worthy of an Oscar, but he was quick to defend himself after the game.

“I think it’s more an attempt to undermine me than anything else,” he said. “I don’t much care for criticism, not even for praise because this can influence in a way the athlete’s attitude.

“In the last two matches I didn’t talk to the press because there are too many people talking, getting excited. I don’t know if they’re showing off. I am here to win with my teammates.”

Read More: Brazil Squad, Profile, Prediction

Belgium get out of jail

Belgium completed a remarkable comeback as they recovered from two goals down to defeat Japan 3-2.

Roberto Martinez’s side were trailing 2-0 when he brought on Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli in the 65th minute, and Fellaini scored the equaliser before Chadli netted a late winner.

Belgium are the first team to fight back from two goals down to win a World Cup knockout game since Germany against England in 1970.

Martinez said: “You get pushed in games. Let’s congratulate Japan, they played the perfect game. They were clinical on the counter and so solid.

“It was a test of character and you see the reaction of our subs coming on to win the game. It tells you everything about this group of players.

“No negatives today, it was about getting through. It is a day to be very proud of these players. Keep believing in Belgium. In the World Cup you want to be perfect but it’s about getting through, it’s about winning.”

Read More: Belgium Squad, Profile, Prediction.

England ready for tough Colombia test

Plenty has been written about England securing a place in the “easier” half of the draw, but manager Gareth Southgate isn’t underestimating the challenge his team faces on Tuesday.

Southgate described the game with Colombia, ranked four places below England, as the nation’s “biggest game for a decade”.

“It’s been over ten years since we won a knockout fixture,” he said. “For this team, it’s a brilliant opportunity to go beyond where more experienced teams have gone before.

“They’re relishing that chance. We’re viewing the game as one with an opponent we really respect. They’ve got really good players and will have lots of supporters in the stadium. I went to two of their matches in Brazil and it was a real carnival atmosphere.

“We have to concentrate on our own football, playing in the style we have throughout the tournament, and playing with the same mentality. We have to show the resilience and the freedom we’ve played with up to this point.

“I want the players to continue to attack the tournament as we have. That shouldn’t change in the knockout stage. We should feel freer, if anything, because these are the sort of matches you want to be involved in. The lads have the chance to write their own stories now.”

Read More: England Squad, Profile, Prediction.

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