Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Brilliant Belgians sweep past Samba Boys to book World Cup semi-final spot

Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Brilliant Belgians sweep past Samba Boys to book World Cup semi-final spot

Jul 07 2018

ARKNews: Belgium produced a blistering display to knock out five-time winners Brazil and book a World Cup semi-final spot against France.

The Belgians ran out 2-1 winners in a frantic encounter in Kazan thanks to two first-half goals, the opener coming from a 13th-minute Fernandinho own goal before Kevin De Bruyne rifled home a second from the edge of the box on the half-hour mark. Substitute Renato Augusto pulled a goal back for Brazil with a 75th-minute header to set up a thrilling end to the game, but Belgium held on as worthy winners to set up a semi-final against France, who earlier saw off Uruguay in their quarter-final.

Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ had largely failed to live up to their tag with disappointing quarter-final exits at their last two major tournaments, but now have a golden chance at glory in Russia after beating a Brazil team that had largely flattered to deceive.

The opening stages saw an intensity that would set the pace for the remainder of the game, as Brazil pressed high up the pitch while Belgium initially saw more of the ball.

It was Brazil though who had the first real chance on seven minutes, when Thiago Silva somehow failed to turn home a Neymar corner from four yards out when completely unmarked, with perhaps the only extenuating circumstances being that the ball had arrived quickly from a Miranda flick-on.

Belgium looked rattled at the back every time Brazil pressed from set pieces, and Paulinho spurned another chance when unmarked at a corner.

The intensity continued as Brazil went in search of the equalizer, although they continued to look porous at the back, especially with the pace and energy of Belgian captain Eden Hazard and Lukaku’s powerful running.

Brazil thought they had cause for a penalty when Neymar threw himself to the floor after brushing past Fellaini, but replays showed zero contact and referee Milorad Mazic did not trouble the VAR.

The referee did go to the video assistant referees just moments later, when Gabriel Jesus went down from a Kompany challenge with the ball running out of play, but no spot-kick was awarded.

Brazil pressed but Belgium remained dangerous on the break, and Hazard flashed across goal from a counter-attack on the hour mark.

Lukaku’s first touch deserted him on more than one occasion but he remained full of running as Belgium’s main attacking outlet.

Brazil finally burst into life to set up a thrilling finale when substitute Renato Augusto turned home a header from a Coutinho cross with 15 minutes to play.

But Belgium held firm and Brazil were on their way out – leaving solely European representatives left in Russia.

For Belgium and Roberto Martinez it means a semi-final test in St. Petersburg against an equally-fancied French team. A mouth-watering prospect awaits.