Belgium hold off Brazil in thriller to reach semis

Belgium celebrate against Japan

Belgium took the lead after a slice of good fortune involving a pair of Manchester City teammates who were on opposing sides.

It's the latest surprise in a tournament full of upsets, which has included Spain's shocking loss to Russian Federation in the knockout rounds and, even more surprisingly, Germany crashing out of the group stage.

When Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were sent packing from the World Cup a week ago, the stage was set for Brazil's Neymar to take over the role of the tournament's true star.

"It's hard to talk about it because all players here are part of a generation", he said. Or maybe this is year that England finally, finally, wins another major global tournament. "For that we still need to win two more matches", De Bruyne added. And then there's this.

A Fernandinho own goal and fierce strike from Kevin De Bruyne put Roberto Martinez's side in early control of a compelling encounter.

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. Belgium and France will meet in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The other semifinal will be played on Wednesday between the winners of England-Sweden and Croatia-Russia.

Vincent Kompany tried to flick on Eden Hazard's left-wing delivery but the decisive touch came from his Manchester City team-mate Fernandinho, who was deputising for Casemiro and turned the ball past Alisson via his arm.

Gary Cahill tells fans not to worry about England's Belgium defeat
After that, if England weren't knocked out, we would've been up against Uruguay, Portugal, France, Argentina , Brazil, or Mexico. With the victory , Belgium gets what appears to be an easier match in the next round against Japan on Monday in Rostov-on-Don.

Fewer than five minutes later, it was Augusto who had Brazil's first golden opportunity to draw the five-time world champions level, but he dragged his shot wide from just outside the box, letting the Belgian backline off the hook for a failed clearance.

For the ensuing 45 minutes, the Belgian defense appeared impermeable, thwarting anything and everything Brazil through at them. Martinez went with an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation, signaling his side's intention to stand toe-to-toe with Neymar and Co. from the start.

"We know what we have to do", he told reporters at Brazil's base in Sochi.

If Belgium's first goal in the 13th minute had an element of luck, with the ball going into the net off Fernandinho's shoulder from a corner, the second in the 31st minute was a percfect example of counter-attacking football.

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.

"We're sad because we wanted to win badly, like all Brazil".

Brazil and Belgium face off in Friday's second World Cup quarter-final for the right to face France in the last four of the competition.

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