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Belgium upset Brazil to send tournament favourites home

BRAZIL 1 (Augusto 76’)
BELGIUM 2 (Fernandinho 13’ own goal, De Bruyne 31’)

By Natasha Prior

Two goals in the first half was enough to send Belgium to the semi-finals of the World Cup for only the second time in its history.

The last time Belgium defeated Brazil was in 1963 and despite being the tournament’s leading goalscoring team with 12, the Red Devils were still underdogs for the clash against the tournament favourites.

An own goal by Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho off a Belgium corner and then a thundering strike from distance by Kevin De Bruyne saw Belgium home despite a late flurry by Brazil through a 76th minute goal by Renato Augusto.

Belgium will meet France in the semi-finals. The only other time the country has advanced this far in a World Cup was in 1986.

The momentum of the match could have been completely different when in just the 8th minute, a Brazil corner bounced off the thigh of Thiago Silva, and with Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois beaten, the ball hit the post and bounced to safety.

It was another corner, this time at the other end, which did lead to the first goal five minutes later.

Nacer Chadli swung the ball in from the left for Belgium which Vincent Kompany flicked towards goal and, on the way through, it hit Fernandinho in the arm and flew into the Brazilian’s own net.

Just after half-an-hour, Belgium made it 2-0 when they broke quickly from a corner at their own end, the ball falling to Romelu Lukaku who carried it beyond the halfway line before finding De Bruyne in space.

The midfielder’s right-foot drive from just outside the box arrowed into the bottom left corner giving Brazil keeper Alisson no chance.

A major upset was on the cards and slowly Brazil started to control play with Neymar often at the centre of their attacking moves.

Inevitably, there was a controversial moment when the playmaker, who has been much-criticised for his antics, went down in the box in the 55th minute after contact, but the VAR ruled no foul had been committed.

Brazil’s other attacking outlet was Marcelo, who delivered seven crosses into the box into the second half but the final touch was always missing.

The match was set-up for a thrilling finish when Philippe Countinho dinked a ball into the box and substitute Augusto was on the end of it to flick a header beyond the reach of Courtois.

Augusto had another shot a couple of minutes later but it just drifted past Belgium’s left post.

The Brazilians were attacking in waves and in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Neymar’s shot from the edge of the box was goal-bound only for Courtois to fling himself to his left, at full-stretch, to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Brazil’s exit also ended the South American quest for the World Cup after Uruguay was knocked out earlier in the day by France.

The French will be standing in the way of Belgium’s first ever World Cup final when the two teams meet in St Petersburg on Wednesday.

Match Statistics

Brazil: 57%
Belgium: 43%

Shots (on target)
Brazil: 26 (9)
Belgium: 8 (3)

Brazil: 8
Belgium: 4

Brazil: 9
Belgium: 13

Yellow Cards
Brazil: 0
Belgium: 2

Team Line-ups

BRAZIL: 1 Alisson, 2 Thiago Silve, 3 Miranda (C), 9 Gabriel Jesus, 10 Neymar, 11 Philippe Coutinho, 12 Marcelo, 15 Paulinho, 17 Fernandinho, 19 Willian, 22 Fagner
Substitutes: 4 Pedro Geromel, 6 Filipe Luis, 7 Douglas Costa, 8 Renato Augusto, 13 Marquinhos, 16 Cassio, 18 Fred, 20 Roberto Firmino, 21 Taison, 23 Ederson, 5 Casemiro, 14 Danilo

BELGIUM: 1 Courtois, 2 Alderweireld, 4 Kompany, 5 Vertonghen, 6 Witsel, 7 De Bruyne, 8 Fellaini, 9 R.Lukaku, 10 Hazard, 15 Meunier, 22 Chadli
Substitutes: 3 Vermaelen, 11 Carrasco, 12 Mignolet, 13 Casteels, 13 Mertens, 16 T.Hazard, 17 Thielemans, 18 Januzaj, 19 Dembele, 20 Boyata, 21 Batshuayi, 23 Dendoncker

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