MOSCOW: Belgium knocked off World Cup favourite Brazil 2-1 on Friday in the quarterfinals, moving on to the semi-finals to face formidable France.
Belgium took a commanding 2-0 lead in the first half, looking sharp in the middle in the process, and Roberto Martinez's team was able to hold on late as the five-time world cup winners looked likely to follow up its first goal in the match with an equalizer. An inspired, world-class Thibaut Courtois made numerous key saves, including one in the 94th minute to keep Neymar out.
The Selecao started the game on a strong note, winning two corners that should have been capitalised on as early nerves from the Belgians allowed, first Thiago Silva, then Paulinho to have an attempt on goal.
While Paulinho scuffed his effort wide of the target, Silva was close to scoring with his tame effort striking the post.
Against the run of play, however, Martinez's men soon drew first blood from their set-piece. Eden Hazard's delivery from a corner was met by Vincent Kompany, with a decisive deflection from Manchester City teammate Fernandinho helping the ball past goalkeeper Alisson.
Brazil's star attackers, particularly PSG star Neymar, were ineffective going forward in the rest of the first-half, with the World No. 2 dearly missing the services of a suspended Casemiro in breaking up Belgium's potent attacks, with Romelu Lukaku running riot across the Brazil half.
His contributions soon resulted in a goal as after a strong charge through Brazil's midfield, he squared the ball to de Bruyne just outside the box, with the Manchester City playmaker unleashing the sweetest of strikes across Alisson to double the Red Devil's lead, with just 30 minutes of the 90 played.
This was also Brazil's fourth successive World Cup campaign that was ended by a European opponent, having previously lost to France, Netherlands and quite unforgettably to Germany in 2006, 2010 and 2014 respectively. (With inputs from ANI)
Image Credit: Sporting News