This Year’s World Cup has really impressed in Russia, and having lost Germany in the group stages, Portugal, Argentina and Spain in The Round of 16, we now find the latest giants to fall are Uruguay and Brazil.
In the earlier Quarter Final encounter, Uruguay were beaten comprehensively by 2-0 against a very impressive French team. From what I saw in the second half, France looked very impressive and have grown into the tournament after a slow start. They now look like hot contenders to go all the way along with Belgium, who have won every match so far including last nights famous 2-1 victory over Brazil.
Brazil 1-2 Belgium
Luck was not shining down on Brazil after they performed pretty well and created so many chances to score, only to be foiled by outstanding organisation and strong defending from Belgium.
Early on, Thiago Silva was unlucky not to give Brazil the lead as he managed to connect with Neymar’s corner with his knee, but the post came to Belgiums rescue.
Shortly after that, Belgium won a corner and poor Fernandinho headed into his own net to give Belgium a surprise 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
This gave Belgium a lift and they had all the confidence and momentum now with Lukaku, De Bruyne and Hazard particularly impressive as an attacking threat. Indeed, it was Lukaku who setup the second and decisive goal for Belgium as he picked up the ball within his own half in the 30th minute and ran a good 30 yards before playing in De Bruyne. De Bruyne with his usual skill dribbled and shimmied before unleashing a sweetly driven shot from just outside the 18 yard area to beat the outstretched arms of Alisson .
Belgium were in dreamland as they now found themselves 2-0 up against the much fancied Brazil.
Not much else to report in the first half, although a great bit of link up play down Brazils left between Neymar and Marcela resulted in Marcelas cross deflecting of a Belgium defender and having to be excellently tipped wide by Cortois who was outstanding as per usual.
From the corner that followed, Cortois was once again called into action as he tipped Coutinho’s curling effort round the post for yet another corner.
The 2nd Half – Brazil Onslaught
The 2nd half saw Brazil almost exclusively camped inside Belgiums half as wave after wave of attacking pressure was thwarted by outstanding defending and the odd bit of good fortune by Belgium.
Neymar, who has a reputation for trying to con referees from time to time was up to his unsavoury tricks as he must of dived on about 3 occasions within the penalty box, although on one occasion, replays did show he had a case when Vincent Kompany appeared to trip him up. The VAR panel did not agree though as they decided no penalty.
In between the almost constant Brazil pressure, Belgium had the occasional counter attack of their own and Eden Hazard almost put the result in no doubt but he flashed wide.
Finally in the 77th minute, Coutinho produced a pass of sheer magic as he chipped the ball just in front of Brazil Substitute, Augusto who still had plenty to do, and managed to direct his header passed the despairing dive of Courtois. This was a truly magical moment in the match but it may just have been to little too late for Brazil as time ticked away and Belgium hung on to famously knock the 5 times World Cup Winners out of Russia 2018.
Coutinho himself did have a decent opportunity late on to equilise as he ran onto Neymars excellent pass but sliced his effort horribly wide when the goal was gaping.
As the match entered into injury time, there was still one last effort from just outside the box from Neymar, but once again, Courtois was more than equal to it tipping it over the bar. It just wasn’t meant to be for Brazil.
It would have been harsh if Brazil had of equalised because Belgium had worked so hard and got their tactics spot on.
Remember Belgium went all out to beat England in their final Group G match which meant they would have a potentially harder route to negotiate. So credit to Roberto Martinez for taking this positive approach and remember just 2 years ago he was sacked from Everton Football Club. Last night he has just masterminded a sensational victory against one of the Worlds best teams and both he and the Belgium team deserve enormous praise.