07 July, 2018, 07:41 | Author: Kristopher Anderson
Belgium reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 32 years, holding off five-time champion Brazil 2-1 Friday (Saturday NZT) in one of the country's greatest football feats.
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.
Meanwhile, Japan thought they had the game locked away with a 2-0 lead in the second half, but then Belgium stormed back to go up 3-2 in the fourth minute of stoppage time to win the game; it's the first time in almost 50 years that a team has overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a game.
Roared on by the vast majority of the crowd at the Kazan Arena, the Brazilians poured forward to try and keep their campaign alive but Roberto Firmino, Augusto and Coutinho could not convert gilt-edged opportunities to level the scores.
Kevin De Bruyne, meanwhile, acknowledged that keeping up with Brazil at times in the second half was a struggle, but he saluted the Red Devils' character.
Dubbed as a "golden generation", a talented Belgium squad will be keen to re-create history while perennial title contenders Brazil will aim to avoid yet another upset when the two teams meet in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday.
But the second goal was a stunning strike from Kevin de Bruyne.
At that point, Brazil looked as if they might capitulate as they did in their astonishing 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany four years ago.
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Back in 2006, they defeated Netherlands 1-0 in the so-called "Battle of Nuremberg" to progress to the World Cup quarterfinals. Portugal will be boosted by the return of Joao Moutinho, who only appeared as a late substitute against Iran due to illness.
The best result that Belgium have achieved in their World Cup history is reaching the semi-finals in 1986, when they eventually finished fourth.
"It is special and we can't let the people of Belgium down".
As disheartening as the loss is for Brazil, Neymar and Co. are in good company, in a manner of speaking. "But we have to maintain our same way of playing, getting better every game, and that is what we will take into this match".
It is no surprise that Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said in the lead up to Brazil that his side "will need power".
Belgium 2, Brazil 0.
Belgium led World Cup favourites Brazil 2-0 at half-time in their quarter-final on Friday as the tournament in Russian Federation braced for a major shock.
For the third time in a World Cup - after 1982 and 2006 - the semifinals will feature only European teams. But it was breached after 13 minutes in Tatarstan.
Criticized for his playacting, Neymar then went down lightly under minimal contact from Marouane Fellaini at the start of the second half.
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In the end, Cavani's two goals were enough to sink Portugal 2-1 and cancel out a Pepe equalizer and send Ronaldo home. Uruguay , going by their form in the group stages, will have the edge over Portugal .
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Victory for the lowlands country in the final group game on Thursday night could be a win for both sides, the Taoiseach said. Belgium now face Japan in Rostov-on-Don on Monday while England play Colombia in Moscow on Tuesday in the knockout phase.
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Portugal's desire to go past the round of 16 however hit the rocks after they were edged out by Uruguay, following a 2-1 defeat. However, Ronaldo backtracked on those comments in the days following, and has not spoken about his club future since.
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