The Red Devils secure a Semi-Final spot

In a World Cup already full of upsets, another one bites the dust. Belgium became the latest side to take down one of the big guns. The most successful side in the history of the competition were dumped out by Belgium in today’s quarter-final clash in Kazan

First half goals from a Fernandinho o.g. and a superb strike from Kevin De Bruyne gave the Belgian’s a deserved lead at the break. Indeed Belgium could have lead by more but for some wasteful shooting. 

In that first half Brazil also had their chances, Thiago Silva should have put them one up after Miranda flicked on Neymar’s corner, but it cannoned off the post and into the keepers arms. In truth Brazil were a dissapointment and while they peppered Thibaut Courtois goal, until Renato Augusto found the net from a delightful outside of the foot cross from Philippe Coutinho, the Brazilians showed more brawn than brain. The magic usually associated with Brazilian sides of the past was sorely missing. Coutinho was their only source of inspiration in an otherwise insipid display. 

Belgium rode their luck at times in the second half. Vincent Kompany’s clumsy take on Jesus warranted a closer look from the VAR, but in fairness a penalty would have been on the harsh side. Neymar did his reputation little good with more theatrics, and on numerous occasions stretched Newton’s laws of gravity with the trajectory of some of his dives.

After the goal from Augusto, Brazil were a side transformed. The confidence returned as the tension ratcheted up a few notches, and the Belgians visibly tired. It became a question of trying to hold onto their slender lead for the remaining fifteen or so minutes. Both Augusto and Robert Firminho were guilty of missing late chances to level the game. Neymar had a late goal bound effort tipped over by Courtois deep onto injury-time. The final whistle triggered great celebrations from Roberto Martinez and his squad. 

The red devils now have a chance to surpass their previous World Cup best finish. They finished in fourth place in Mexico 1986, going down 2-0 to Argentina in the semi-final in the Azteca Stadium, before going down to France in the 3rd place play-off game 4-2 after extra time. They’ll face the French again on Tuesday for a place in the 2018 World Cup final.

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