Belgium booked their place for the Friday night showdown against Brazil with a last gasp effort from Nacer Chadli against Japan on Monday night.
Having looked lost at sea midway through the second half, Belgium fought back and won the game in the dying seconds thanks to a razor sharp counter-attack.
It was Japan who took the lead despite look out on their feet for large spells of the first half. The were creating chances but Belgium were laying the pressure on thick up the other end and could have had a handful of goals before the half-time whistle.
On 48 minutes, however, Genki Haraguchi took the ball into the penalty are from a counter and sent a rocket past Thibaut Courtois into a the only space he could from a tight angle. Japan were 1-0 up and were still looking dangerous in attack. They doubled their lead four minutes later whe Takashi Inui sent another laser beam past Courtois, this time to the other side of the Belgian keeper.
Belgium had to act. But it seemed like they were out of luck when Hazard struck the post from a volley inside the penalty area. Were we about to have another scalp at the World Cup. The steep slope Belgium were looking up at became easier when Jan Vertonghen sent a header looping over Eiji Kawashima. That was followed up by a header from substitue Marouane Fellaini.
The game cooled at that point but both sides were still dreaming of a winner. Japan were awarded a corner with what we thought would be the last kick of the game but Courtois grabbed it and sprung Kevin de Bruyne free. He played it to Thomas Meunier and after a stepover from Lukaku, Chadli slid home the winner with no time for Japan to even think about a reply.
It was close, it was not always a certainty and it was, at times, lucky but Belgium march on to meet Brazil in a heavyweight showdown in the quarter-final. Meanwhile, Japan, who sacked their manager just weeked before the tournament will go home wondering what might have been.