Willian Warns Hazard Ahead of Brazil-Belgium Battle

07 July, 2018, 07:43 | Author: Donna Miller
  • Romelo Lukaku leads Belgium with four goals so far in the tournament

The Belgians struck early and then held off a late Brazil fightback to send the five-times champions tumbling out of the competition with a 2-1 victory in an end-to-end thriller on Friday.

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. Coutinho lifted a cross into the area where Renato Augusto, who had just entered the game, glanced a soft header just past Courtois to make the game 2-1.

Augusto gave Brazil a lifeline in the 75th minute with a headed goal barely three minutes after coming on.

The City midfielder will step in for Real Madrid's Casemiro, who is suspended, with Tite trusting the 33-year-old to do the job required against a Belgium midfield including Kevin De Bruyne.

The coach highlighted a number of reasons Belgium should fear his team - their speed on the counter-attack, ability to produce magic as well as a miserly defence that has conceded just a single goal in Russian Federation.

The South American five-time champions came to Russian Federation seeking to erase the pain of a 7-1 defeat against Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup on home soil.

Neymar continued to run at the Belgium defence until the end but had a second penalty appeal waved away by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic and a final shot tipped over the bar by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as the last few seconds ticked away.

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Belgium displayed their fighting spirit and manager Roberto Martinez was able to completely change the game after going down 2-0. This was by no means a virtuoso display from Neymar in the ilk of his PSG colleagues. "We still haven't seen the best of him".

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Brazil's centre-half partnership of Miranda and Thiago Silva have looked steady so far, although they are yet to face a team with the Belgium's level of attacking talent.

"I thought it was a great match and we had a lot of it, with plenty of possession and a lot of opportunities", said a shellshocked Tite after the match.

If the Red Devils are to overcome a steadily improving Brazil team, with Neymar an ever-more influential figure, they will have to up their game. But the defense was breached after 13 minutes in Tatarstan.

Brazil's last chance to save their season came at the 94th minute, when the club's star winger Neymar curled what looked to be the equalizer into the top corner.

Achieving that feat for a second time will surely be on the minds of every Belgium player when they take the field at the Kazan Arena.

The coach said having Thierry Henry, who was in France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad, among his backroom staff has helped bridge that gap.

But against Brazil, the Belgians will have to do much better.

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