Belgium hold off Brazil fightback to reach semi-finals

Tanya Simon
July 8, 2018

The Belgians had been put in the bracket of dark horses prior to the action getting underway in Russian Federation this summer, due to their lack of global pedigree despite the wealth of Premier League talent at Roberto Martinez's disposal.

Belgium are headed to a World Cup semifinal for the first time since 1986 after knocking off Brazil, a side which hadn't lost a game - competitive or otherwise - in almost 13 months, in Friday's thrilling quarterfinal clash in Nizhny Novgorod.

Brazil substitute Renato Augusto pulled one back for the five-time champions, reducing Belgium's lead to 2-1.

VAR came into play soon after the Neymar penalty shout when Kompany tripped up Jesus near the Belgium goalline, but after review the video assistant did not award a spot kick to Brazil.

"It was a big call to bring Marouane Fellaini back, but he stuck to his job so the system was ideal".

A "golden generation" featuring Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku exited tamely to Argentina four years ago and blew a huge chance at Euro 2016 when on the kind side of the draw. "For that, we still need to win two more matches".

Just think of all the great dribblers that have played against inferior opposition at a World Cup and none of them could produce such efficiency.

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During his display, Hazard recorded one of the most outrageous statistics ever seen at any instalment of the tournament.

We had to be courageous tactically and to do that in a World Cup, the players have to believe.

Belgium will go on to play France in the semi-final, with the victor going on to meet one of Sweden, England, Croatia or Russian Federation.

Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russian Federation but were behind early when Nacer Chadli's corner struck Fernandinho's arm and flew into the net, the 10th own goal of this World Cup.

The Selecao continued to dominate possession and carved out chance after chance, especially after Augusto headed home Philippe Coutinho's cross to give them renewed hope some three minutes after replacing Paulinho.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the latest stunner in a 2018 tournament full of them (WATCH HERE), to add to an early own goal, before Brazil fought back valiantly but ultimately fell in the end, 2-1.

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