Belgium advances to World Cup semifinal, sending Brazil home


Another World Cup, another failure for Brazil.

Five-time world champion Brazil came into Friday's quarterfinal match at Russian Federation 2018 as the clear favorite to beat the Red Devils and reach next week's semifinal versus France, which had dispatched Uruguay hours earlier.

Kevin De Bruyne, meanwhile, acknowledged that keeping up with Brazil at times in the second half was a struggle, but he saluted the Red Devils' character.

Brazil were dumped out of the World Cup following a very impressive first-half display by Roberto Martinez's side.

It was a spirited display from Brazil, which managed to pull a goal back after going 2-0 down in the first half, and almost equalized in the dying moments when Neymar forced a fingertip save from Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

When all else failed, there was Thibaut Courtois who made several outstanding saves including one in the fourth minute of stoppage time to turn away a Neymar shot that was heading for the top corner. Hence, Brazil will have a lot of work to do if they want to maintain the match-winning streak over Belgium. Just like defending champion Germany and Argentina before them, the Kazan Arena is where Brazil's World Cup challenge ended. The current generation of Brazil stars will no doubt be hoping for a similar outcome this time as well. "It was hard to swallow". In the past 25 matches under head coach Tite, Brazil have conceded only six goals and kept 19 clean sheets.

Romelo Lukaku leads Belgium with four goals so far in the tournament. Unlike then - an eventual 4-1 victory over Uruguay - there was no comeback. "Not a superiority in terms of performance, but in terms of effectiveness on the pitch".

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Philippe Coutinho missed a great chance to draw his team level in the 83rd minute after being set up by Neymar.

"They did it. they were incredible, incredible hearts out there", said Belgium's Spanish coach Roberto Martinez.

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. But as the referee started to seek a video review, Neymar appeared to urge against it.

Belgium will be without defender Thomas Meunier for the semifinals after tripping Neymar and earning a second yellow card of the tournament.

"We are a team where everyone gives everything in the matches and in preparation.I just have words of gratitude for my team mates", he said.

Fortunately for the Selecao, Belgium has a poor record against South American sides at the World Cup.

Up next for Belgium in the last four is Didier Deschamps' France, and De Bruyne is ready to grasp a rare opportunity for his country. We're on an equal footing with France, the difference is minimal.