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Belgium advances to World Cup semifinals, beats Brazil 2-1

08 July 2018

Roberto Martinez's side quickly lost both the possession and momentum in the second half and Brazil began harassing the Belgian defenders.

Fernandinho turned a corner into his own net to put Belgium in front, with a superb counter-attack extending their advantage.

As they head into Friday's quarter-final against Belgium in Kazan they do so with the joint-best defensive record at this year's World Cup alongside Uruguay, having allowed only one goal against Switzerland in their opening Group E fixture.

Now, Belgium and France are set to play a semifinal match next Tuesday.

In England, World Cup fever is building as hopes rise that Gareth Southgate's young team spearheaded by striker Harry Kene can beat Sweden in Samara on Saturday and reach the semi-finals for the first time for 28 years.

That is the most by any player in a World Cup since 1966 and illustrates just how incisive he was against Tite's team. You don't want to play with LeBron because you want to be the top dog?

Belgium held on even after Philippe Coutinho's cross was headed in by Augusto, who managed to evade Kompany and Jan Vertonghen three minutes after replacing Paulinho.

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The Red Devils were everywhere on the pitch in the first half and as the scoreline suggested, they were the better side but tide of the game shifted radically in the second half.

Thibaut Courtois, who made a fine save to tip over a late shot from Neymar, said Brazil were the superior attacking side, but the goalkeeper was happy to have reached the semifinal "the hard way".

Huge moment: Belgium players celebrate after defeating Brazil in the quarter finals in Kazan on Friday.

Now in their prime, this group of players is unlikely to get a better opportunity to win a major worldwide tournament than over the course of the next week, with France to come in the last four on Tuesday.

And the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who started the tournament in Russian Federation short of 100 per cent fitness, has opened up on the disappointment of Brazil's defeat with he and his compatriots having been viewed as the favourites to win it several weeks ago. It could it be that Brazil was the side more afraid of failure ahead of the matchup, the weight of history and expectation theirs to carry always.

Although Brazil fought their way back into the match thanks to Renato Augusto's 76th minute header, they paid the price for missing late chances.

Neymar did finally come to life in injury time, forcing a brilliant save from Thibaut Courtois with a curling shot from outside the area, but it was not enough to sustain his team's challenge.

Belgium advances to World Cup semifinals, beats Brazil 2-1