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Web Desk
July 7, 2018

World Cup 2018: Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 to face France in semi-final

KAZAN: Belgium on Friday defeated World Cup favourites Brazil 2-1 to set up a semi-final against France in Saint Petersburg.

A Fernandinho own goal in the 16th minute followed by a superb Kevin De Bruyne strike just after the half-hour put Belgium in the driving seat.

Brazil made efforts to take the game and pulled a goal back through Renato Augusto to minimize the lead, but it was too little, too late. Belgium hung on for a famous 2-1 win that puts them into a semi-final against France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.

The pain was too much for Neymar who was in tears at the end.

Sharing his words, Brazil coach Tite said that defeat to Belgium was "very hard for us to swallow" after the Red Devils ended Brazil´s hopes of a record sixth World Cup crown.

Brazil's bid for a second consecutive place in the semi-finals looked in safe hands as they were  unbeaten in their last 15 games.

Brazil spurned several clear chances to push the match into extra-time, Augusto drilling wide and Coutinho skewing his effort off target from Neymar´s pass.

Courtois produced a great save in the dying minutes, tipping over a curling drive from Neymar as the Belgians ensured they will make just their second visit to the last four, 32 years after the finals in Mexico.

On eight minutes Courtois was flapping when Neymar´s corner was flicked on by Joao Miranda, came off the thigh of Thiago Silva and then off the post.

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 half-time on Brazil´s way to the humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany in 2014.

Brazil almost equalised immediately, Neymar dribbling down the left and finding Gabriel, only for his effort to go amiss.

Lukaku looked invincible as he powered through Brazil´s midfield before finding De Bruyne in space on the right.

Brazil saw two penalty claims in quick succession waved away by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic after Neymar tumbled following contact with Fellaini and Gabriel went to ground after a challenge from Vincent Kompany.

"I´m the proudest man on earth now because I gave a very difficult assignment to the players and the way they responded -- they believed till the last minute was amazing," said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez.