Belgium's nine goals - scored in big wins over Panama and Tunisia, and a 1-0 victory over England in their final preliminary match - saw them top Group G and set up a meeting with Japan, who squeaked into the round of 16 thanks to FIFA's fair play rules.
Lukaku scored the victor for Belgium in that friendly meeting last year, and Japan's Southampton centre-back Maya Yoshida knows from his time playing in the Premier League of the difficulties the 25-year-old striker will pose. After beating Colombia in their opening pool fixture and then contesting an exciting 2-2 draw with Senegal, Japan had won over numerous neutrals, but they lost that credit with the way they played against Poland.
Kick-off is 7pm Nigerian time.
And Vertonghen's strike was definitely that, a looping header from nearly outside the box, and intentional or not, Belgium were level in the 69th minute.
"Japan had fantastic performances in the group stage and progressed to the round of 16 in both cases, but.the team members were all exhausted, there wasn't anything left", said Nishino, who was previously the Japan Football Association's technical director.
Belgium have gone past the last 16 on two previous occasions, reaching the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and the semi-finals in 1986 when they were beaten by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina.
Instead, it took an altogether less glamorous side, missing talisman Cristiano Ronaldo for much of the final due to injury, to end Portugal's wait by huffing and puffing their way to Euro 2016 glory.
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"We have a lot of respect for this team, and we don't think we are going to win this one easily".
Japan settled the better of the two sides in the early stages of the match, dominating possession and forcing Belgium to back-track into their own half.
Along with Keizuke Honda, they will be looking to make up for the defeat to Paraguay at South Africa 2010, the last time that the Japanese featured in the knockout rounds. In the last match, Japan lost 1-0 to an already eliminated Poland, while Senegal lost 1-0 to Colombia.
Takashi Inui calmly collected Shiji Kagawa's layoff near the box and curled one past Courtois to leave the Belgian Red Devils shellshocked.
They met at the World Cup before back in 2012 with both teams drawing 2-2. Honda, who has netted 37 times for Japan, is no longer a regular, but the 32-year-old former AC Milan player remains unsafe on free kicks.
The goal gave Belgium momentum, and Roberto Martinez's substitutes, Chadli and Fellaini, also had an impact as Belgium were more direct in the closing stages.