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World Cup 2018: Brilliant Belgium put profligate Brazil to the sword

4:04 AM MYT 07/07/2018
The Red Devils were brilliant on the counter and made Tite's men rue the missed chances....

Belgium progressed to the World Cup semifinals for only the second time in their history after a thrilling 2-1 win over five-time champions Brazil in Kazan. 

An own goal from Fernandinho early on sent Belgium on their way before Kevin de Bruyne capped off a terrific counter-attack with a brilliant drive to make it 2-0 for the Belgians. Though Renato Augusto pulled one back for Brazil late on, there was no denying the Red Devils their place in the last-four. 

Brazil, without the suspended Casemiro, looked rudderless in midfield and were brutally exposed by a Belgian side who were ruthless on the counter-attack early on. 

It was a tale of missed chances for Brazil who should have been at least two goals ahead inside the first five minutes. Thiago Silva kneed a glanced corner over from two yards out inexplicably before Fernandinho kicked air after the ball fell to him inside the box friom a corner. 

Roberto Martinez's men then punished Brazil for those misses when Vincent Kompany headed a corner on at the near post. The ball would strike Fernandinho's body and deflect in, leaving Allison helpless in goal. 

Brazil's natural response was to pour forward and Belgium would exploit the spaces left behind. With both the full-backs joining in attack, there were plenty of spaces for Belgium to run on to during the counter-attacks and that is exactly what they did. 

Just past the hour mark, Romelu Lukaku showed exemplary determination to hold on to a ball before turning his man and stride forward. He played de Bruyne through on the right and the Manchester City man rifled in a drive from just outside the box. 

A stunned Brazil tried in vain to get a goal back before half-time but poor finishing in the final third meant they went into the break two goals down. 

Tite threw on Roberto Firmino, Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto in a desperate bid to stage a comeback but with Marouane Fellaini setting up a solid wall for his defenders, the Belgians held on. 

Though Renato Augusto got a goal back with a good header to finish off a clever ball from Coutinho, there was not to be an equaliser on the day. 

Yes, Brazil did see a couple of ricochets not to fall to them kindly and Courtois pulled off a stunning save in injury time to deny Neymar but the blame for the defeat solely lies in the way they conceded two quick goals early on. 

Belgium has a high-profile semifinal against France to prepare for now while Kazan has claimed the scalp of another former champion in Brazil, after seeing Argentina and Geramny get knocked out here.