Belgium holds off Brazil’s comeback effort to reach World Cup semifinals

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Belgium went into half-time 2-0 up thanks to a Fernandinho own goal and De Bruyne's fierce strike, giving a Brazil side previously seen as World Cup favourites a mountain to climb.

The Belgians had been put in the bracket of dark horses prior to the action getting underway in Russian Federation this summer, due to their lack of global pedigree despite the wealth of Premier League talent at Roberto Martinez's disposal.

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One of them was Philippe Coutinho, who admitted it was tough to take because their dream was to win the tournament.

Meanwhile, Manchester City's De Bruyne warned Belgium not to get carried away and said they had achieved nothing yet.

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Neymar, who was criticized ahead of the game for having spent almost 14 minutes on the floor cumulatively in Brazil's first four games, flung himself down but was told to get back up.

"It was a big call to bring Marouane Fellaini back, but he stuck to his job so the system was ideal".

Both goals came as the result of swift counter-attacks - De Bruyne's finish applied after a brilliant run and pass from Romelu Lukaku.

"I think we switched things up tactically", Man of the Match De Bruyne told reporters at the Kazan Arena.

The pain of Belgium's defeat by the same opponents in the Round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup enhances the joy of reaching the semi-finals in Russian Federation that little bit further.

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It was the fourth successive World Cup that Brazil's involvement was ended by a European side, four years after a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals.

Thibaut Courtois had a defiant message for his detractors after a fine display in Belgium's quarter-final win over Brazil, adamant he proved himself after "unfair" criticism.

Although Brazil fought their way back into the match thanks to Renato Augusto's 76th minute header, they paid the price for missing late chances.

In the second half they adapted their system.

When you add in recent failures in other major competitions like Copa America, which Brazil hasn't won in over a decade, it doesn't matter that Brazil came into Friday's match unbeaten in its last 15 games, or that the giants dominated South American qualifying en route to Russian Federation.

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The 2018 World Cup finals have flown by, and France, Belgium, England and Croatia have a chance of winning it. I told him we are disappointed. "Talking about criticism, if they trusted us or not, we trusted ourselves".


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