Japan held what seemed to be a convincing 2-0 lead in the second half before the talented Belgians stormed back to take control of the game in the final seconds.
Genki Haraguchi broke the deadlock for Japan three minutes into the second stanza with a low strike from the right side of the box following a quick counter-attack.
With a lineup of superstars headlined by the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin DeBruyne, Belgium was the strong favorite heading into the match and regarded by many, as a true contender to reach the July 15 final.
He promised a more attacking approach and Japan lived up his word, with Kagawa shooting wide in the first minute in an enterprising opening spell. Although it was Japan who almost took the lead right before the break, when Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois fumbled a save on an effort from Yuto Nagatomo, almost allowing the ball to roll into his own goal.
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Another star forward, Kawhi Leonard , reportedly wants to go to Los Angeles via trade from the San Antonio Spurs . It will be interesting to see if the Lakers do try and land another star in a trade to go along with James.
Belgium will have a refreshed side to choose from as they face Japan in the World Cup round of 16 in Rostov on Monday night.
Belgium were expected to make light work of Japan but instead found themselves on the brink of a huge shock after going 2-0 down after 52 minutes.
The Japanese defence had made a mess of clearing the ball after a punch out by the keeper, who was then off his line when Vertonghen headed back across the goal, the ball drifting in under the bar at the far post.
Jan Vertonghen then scored with a looping header that appeared to be a cross but dropped in under the crossbar in the 69th minute.