Belgium send Brazil crashing out in Russia
Posted: 6 July 2018 Time: 21:00
Belgium’s dream run at the 2018 World Cup finals continued with a 2-1 win over Brazil to set-up a meeting with France in the semi-finals.
Early promise from Brazil nearly resulted in the opener when a header from Thiago Silva came off the post after a flick by Miranda following a corner, but Thibaut Courtois was able to smother the rebound.
Given his impact off the bench against Japan, Nacer Chadli unsurprisingly started for Belgium and went close with a shot from outside the box that went wide.
Paulinho then had a chance at the other end but could not to get any connection on a delivery from a corner and scuffed a weak shot which was cleared.
The Red Devils eventually took the early lead thanks to Fernandinho's misfortune, as his attempt to cut out Vincent Kompany's header from a corner saw him deflect the ball into his own net on 12 minutes.
The Brazilians, as expected, piled on the pressure for a comeback, and a low shot from Marcelo forced Thibaut Courtois to get down low to make a decent stop.
However, the Belgians pounced yet again after good work from Romelu Lukaku put in Kevin De Bruyne, who made no mistake with a stunning shot past Alisson on 30 minutes.
Despite the lead, Courtois' goal remained under constant threat as he was forced to tip away a deflected shot for a corner, followed by a save from Phillipe Coutinho’s curler.
De Bruyne’s quality was emanating throughout the pitch, and he came close to adding a third but Alisson tipped over his free-kick for a corner.
Brazil’s persistence remained but the path to goal continued to elude them as Paulinho managed to get behind a sturdy Belgian defence but Courtois was able to flick away his effort.
The Selecao also made themselves susceptible to counterattacks and Eden Hazard almost made them pay from such an instance but was unable to test the keeper.
With 15 minutes to go, Courtois was finally beaten as Renato Augusto jumped to head in Coutinho’s delicate chip.
It seemed certain that the come back would be completed as Brazil relentlessly peppered the Belgium goal with chances, but the South Americans were not able to send the game to the extra time with Courtois denying Neymar at the death with a stunning save.
Belgium will now take on France in the semi-finals, while Saturday's action will see Sweden face England before hosts Russia take on Croatia.