Belgium hold off Brazil in thriller to reach semis

Belgium celebrate against Japan

Belgium celebrate against Japan

After disappointing quarter-final exits in their last two major tournaments, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has instilled some self-belief in an outstandingly talented generation of players that seemed to have been missing in the past.

A Fernandinho own goal in the 16th minute followed by a superb Kevin De Bruyne strike just after the half-hour put Belgium in the driving seat.

Belgium held on even after Philippe Coutinho's cross was headed in by Augusto, who managed to evade Kompany and Jan Vertonghen three minutes after replacing Paulinho.

Brazil's Neymar reacts at the end of the team's 2-1 loss to Belgium during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter-finals.

Kevin De Bruyne scores a shocking second goal for Belgium off the counter attack.

This was no repeat of Belo Horizonte four years ago, when Brazil were thrashed 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals on home soil, and Tite's side kept their shape and composure.

Neymar had a late chance to equalise but Thibaut Courtois tipped over as Belgium clung on.




Belgium and France will meet in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Belgium have no new injury concerns, although manager Roberto Martinez must decide whether to start with the same team that began the Japan game or the one that finished it so well.

It was a Neymar-Hazard clash, two players with similar playing quality of skill, speed and dexterity but on the night it was the Belgian man who showed objective, led with example, whilst the other in yellow, looked out of sorts, tried on many occasions to win an underserving sympathy, penalty from the referee.

At the World Cup, the two sides have met just once.

The introduction of Douglas Costa for the misfiring Gabriel Jesus in the 58th minute spurred Brazil on to stage a comeback with the Juventus winger putting up a fine individual display which appeared to inspire his teammates to push for a goal.

"You have to accept that Brazil have so much quality and finesse, they break you down, but we did not accept it". What's more, nothing seemed to go Neymar's way, as Brazil looked uncharacteristically uncertain in front of goal.

"I think it's a game that when you are a little boy, you dream of being involved in a World Cup, facing Brazil in a quarter-final", he said, "so from our point of view we can enjoy from the first second". There was the penalty shout that fell on deaf ears after striker Gabriel Jesus - who went scoreless in Russian Federation - was taken down by Vincent Kompany 10 minutes into the second half.

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