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World Cup 2018: Brilliant Belgium beat Brazil 2-1, end South American challenge


Belgium progressed to their second semi-final appearance at the World cup after defeating Brazil 2-1 at the Kazan Arena on Friday.

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Fernandinho’s extra touch from a corner as early as the 13th minute opened the scoring for Belgium, who capitalised on the gift and had gone 2-0 ahead by the time the clock hit half-an hour. Renato Augusto did pull one back, heading in Philippe Coutinho’s delicate chip but it was never going to be enough.

When the line-ups were announced and it had Mauro Fellaini and Nacer Chadli – heroes of Belgium’s previous match – one could sense the superiority the Red Devils would enjoy in the air.

They did and by the 13th minute Brazil were reeling under the pressure. Both played an important role for the opening goal, but it was a third of Roberto Martinez’s master-stroke that had begun the move.

Also Read: World Cup 2018: France beat Uruguay 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals

De Bruyne playing as a false No. 9 and Romelu Lukaku – the giant of a striker, moving to the right to exploit the gap between Marcelo and Countinho. The former slide open the rugged Brazilian defence that had until this match conceded just once.

The ball released was for Fellaini, who never looked like scoring but earned Belgium a corner and Fernandinho elbowed home a Chadli cross.

But one would be surprised to know that this goal came against run of play and it was Brazil who dictated terms in the opening few minutes, as the Red Devils survived on a luck.

Thiago Silva bundled an early corner against a post and Paulinho missed his kick when well-placed. Thibaut Courtois made a couple of fine saves and Belgium survived against a Brazilian side that had won 20 out of 25 matches.

But despite their initial rant, the Selecao boys mellowed down after the opening goal. This combined with the front-three of Belgium breaking loose meant Brazil found it hard to concentrate. Lukaku and Hazard on the flanks were always devastating, while de Bruyne ran the show from the centre.

It was Lukaku who assisted the second goal, breezing past both Paulinho and Fernandinho from his own-half before finding his Manchester compatriot, who looked-up and in a flash buried the ball well behind Alison Becker into the net.

Belgium were 2-0 up and Tite’s men had for the first time had conceded twice in a single match. They went into the break with the same scoreline and the screenboard lit up – no team had ever come back to win a World Cup match after being two or more goals down at half-time.

Also Read: World Cup 2018 Live Updates: Belgium knocks Brazil out of World Cup

But the record was Brazil’s to break and they couldn’t. Neymar and Gabriel Jesus tumbled into the box, the former at a slightest touch, the latter fouled by Kompany and should have had a penalty. But VAR though otherwise and there went up Brazil’s chances, the last of South America in the tournament.

Augusto shot wide from an open space and Countinho failed to place the ball from 12 yards out. But the highlight of the second-half was the fingertip save of Courtois to deny Neymar his moment of heroism, his redemption.

After ridiculing himself through the entire World Cup with his antics and acting, the PSG star finally looked to have earned his redemption with virtually the last kick of the game, placing a beautiful shot at the far post but Courtois stretched full to ensure it was his moment – the Belgian goalkeeper was the hero on the night and Neymar returns home still a social media meme.

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