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

Belgium celebrate against Japan

Belgium celebrate against Japan

Belgium ended Brazil's dream of a sixth World Cup title when they beat the South Americans 2-1 in a dramatic, enthralling end-to-end quarter-final on Friday to earn a semi-final tie against France.

VAR came into play soon after the Neymar penalty shout when Kompany tripped up Jesus near the Belgium goalline, but after review the video assistant did not award a spot kick to Brazil.

If Belgium's first goal in the 13th minute had an element of luck, with the ball going into the net off Fernandinho's shoulder from a corner, the second in the 31st minute was a shining example of counter-attacking football.

Long touted as World Cup contenders thanks to an abundance of talent, Belgium claimed their biggest scalp ever in beating five-time winners Brazil to reach just their second semi-final. But it was too late for Brazil to muster an equalizer as Courtois thwarted several efforts to force the game into extra time.

Brazil star Philippe Coutinho said he was ready for the backlash after the surprise World Cup quarter-final loss to Belgium.

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And so to St Petersburg, where on Tuesday Belgium's Number 10 will face France's Number 10 Kylian Mbappe, one of the most exciting talents of the past couple of years. At one point, while recovering from a lingering quadriceps injury over the All-Star break with personal trainers in New York, Leonard ran away from members of the Spurs front office who had hoped to check in on him, according to a reporter with inside knowledge.

Brazil, ranked second in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association, were the last remaining non-European team in the tournament after Les Bleus knocked out Uruguay in Friday's first quarter-final.

"We're sad because we wanted to win badly, like all Brazil".

Neymar, who appeared in great form when scoring once and setting up another in a 2-0 last 16 win over Mexico, failed to spark on the night despite testing Belgium 'keeper Thibaut Courtois at the death.

"They were born to play in a match like this", Martinez added.

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Tite had replaced suspended holding midfielder Casemiro with Fernandinho in his starting line-up, handing the Manchester City player his first World Cup start since he was hauled off at halftime on Brazil's way to the humiliating 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany in 2014.

It was the first time Brazil had trailed in a game for over a year, and before the half was out, the first time they have conceded two in a game under Tite.

"We've achieved something that is really attractive", said Kevin De Bruyne, who scored Belgium's second goal, "and it's not easy".

"But now we need more energy for our next game to try to make sure we're just as good in the semi-finals", said Belgian coach Roberto Martinez.

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