Genki Haraguchi

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Snow denies Hannover’s Haraguchi open goal in 3-2 loss

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A wild 3-2 game in the driving snow saw Bayer Leverkusen pick up a critical three points in the battle for a Champions League place, but it didn’t come without some luck.

Well, a lot of luck.

Thanks to the significant snowfall, Hannover was denied a wide-open goal in the 33rd minute. Goalkeeper Michael Esser pumped the ball forward, straight to Japan international Genki Haraguchi streaking behind his defender. Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky came off his line to challenge, but Haraguchi rounded him easily and punched the ball towards the open net.

Then a funny thing happened. The significant snow buildup slowed the ball as it raced toward the net, stopping it inches before crossing the goal line. Bayer defender Jonathan Tah was able to collect the stopped ball and clear it off the line, preventing Hannover from breaking into the scoreline.

Snow denies Hannover 96 goal | 2019 Bundesliga Highlights (VIDEO)

Haraguchi looks certain to score but the snow literally stopped Hannover 96’s ball from going in the empty net.

The weather continued to affect the game even after that. It snowed so much that the game had to be stopped eight minutes later so the grounds crew could clear enough to see the lines.

While Hannover would eventually draw back level at 2-2, the visitors won it late as Kai Haverts would deliver Bayer all three points. That drew them within four of Borussia Monchengladbach in the race for the final Champions League place, while Hannover remains in a relegation position in 17th, five back of 16th-placed Stuttgart.

Stoppage time winner completes Belgium comeback

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Nacer Chadli‘s goal seconds before the final whistle led Belgium to a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Japan on Monday at the World Cup in Rostov-on-Don.

Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini also scored for Belgium, who will meet Brazil in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui helped Japan to a 2-0 lead.

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Romelu Lukaku looked strong out of the gates, creating enough space to earn a pair of corner kicks in the first 20 minutes.

One of the few balls Japan got to the doorstep was bungled between the legs of Thibaut Courtois, but he collected it before any of the Samurai Blue could pounce on it.

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Japan opened the second half with a history-making vigor, scoring twice inside of five minutes.

A misplay from Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen allowed Haraguchi to dribble on goal, and he acted like a cutback to his left foot was coming before pushing a right footed shot beyond the reach of Courtois.

Then it was Inui’s turn, and what he did was nothing short of gorgeous.

Given some room to maneuver, Shinji Kagawa and Inui worked outside the 18 before the latter unleashed an arrow toward goal. Courtois could not reach it.

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Lukaku just missed turning a header inside the far post in the 62nd minute as Belgium tried to get on the board and put pressure on the upstart Samurai Blue.

Vertonghen got a bit of redemption in the 70th minute, when his headed cross back across goal looped over the keeper and into the goal. A pass? Most likely. A goal? Certainly.

Fellaini’s goal, five minutes after entering the game, made it 2-2. It was a trademark powerful header from the Manchester United man.

Eiji Kawashima made a pair of fantastic saves for Japan as the game moved toward the final whistle of regulation, and Courtois answered with a beauty of his own in the 90th.

The Red Devils completed the comeback in the fourth minute of stoppage time, cued up by Kevin De Bruyne. Thomas Meunier cut a square ball through the 18 that Lukaku dummied for Chadli to slide home.