Belgium defeats Brazil
Belgium reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 32 years, holding off five-time champion Brazil 2-1 Friday in one of the country’s greatest soccer feats.
A superb first half display by Belgium ended Brazil’s hopes of a record sixth World Cup crown as a Fernandinho own goal and a superb Kevin De Bruyne strike proved enough to win 2-1 and seal a semi-final spot.
Although Brazil roared back in the second half with a headed goal from Renato Augusto, it is the Belgians who will face France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
Unbeaten in their last 15 games, Brazil’s bid for a second consecutive place in the semi-finals looked in safe hands.
But after an energetic start that saw Thiago Silva come close and Neymar show early promise, Brazil heads went down following Fernandinho’s own goal before De Bruyne’s superb strike from distance put the Red Devils in control on 31 minutes.
Late changes by Brazil coach Tite paid off as Renato Augusto’s superb header 14 minutes from time dragged the south Americans back into contention.
But as Belgian legs tired, Brazil spurned several great chances to push the match into extra-time, Augusto drilling inches wide and Coutinho skewing his effort off target from Neymar’s pass.
Courtois produced a great save in the dying minutes, tipping over a curling drive from Neymar as the Belgians ensured they will make just their second visit to the last four, 32 years after their surge to semis in Mexico.
“Just treasure it and pass it down in the generations,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said, still seemingly in awe of what his team achieved at Kazan Arena.
Belgium took the lead after a slice of good fortune involving a pair of Manchester City teammates who were on opposing sides. Brazil midfielder Fernandinho’s trailing right arm inadvertently helped Belgium captain Vincent Kompany’s header land in his own net in the 13th minute.