Following Uruguay’s loss to France earlier in the day, Belgium made sure of an all-European set up with a convincing win over a luckless Brazil.
Brazil had a HUGE opportunity to take the lead early on with a close range effort from Thiago Silva which hit the post. He couldn’t believe his luck when that somehow did not go in!
Nacer Chadli also anticipated an effort, but that was spurned just before!
Speaking of the West Brom winger, a corner from him deflected off Fernandinho to give the “golden generation” the lead within 13 minutes! He knew nothing about that! The ball went in off him so quickly!
Thibaut Courtois was at hand in making fine saves to avoid giving Brazil incentives! Mentioning “incentives”, they were nearly gifted one when a “heart in mouth” moment from Belgium nearly saw their lead slip away, but the danger was hooked away by Jan Vertonghen.
Another opportunity for Brazil arose when Marcelo neatly crossed for Gabriel Jesus who was in the box, but his header failed to find the target. Chance missed!
Belgium punished Brazil on the break with Romelu Lukaku finding Kevin De Bruyne who was pacing not too far from him to strike, and double his sides lead. Brazil were in trouble!
Towards the end, there were fine saves from either side a Alisson punched a free kick from De Bruyne over, and Courtois pushed away a solid strike from Philippe Coutinho.
Neymar was up to his old tricks, yet again as he seemed to go down easily in the area six minutes in. The way he tried to con the referee was just pathetic. (I’ll explain more later on).
His side continued to fight for a goal with two chances. One from Marcelo, which Roberto Firmino struggled to get a toe on, and when a penalty appeal was turned down following VAR coming into play. Vincent Kompany was initially adjudged to have fouled Jesus in the area. Penalty? I think no!
Despite not being awarded a penalty Brazil still searched for a goal that would at least keep them in the contest, but Courtois was alert to the danger, and was able to parry away. At the other end, Roberto Martinez’ side could’ve called it “game, set, and match” with a third, but his close chance at goal glided wide of the target!
With 14 minutes to go, substitute Renato Augusto headed home to reduce the two-goal deficit, with Coutinho providing the assist.
Brazil pushed for a equaliser late on, but nothing was to give for either. Despite the late onslaught Belgium held on to claim a first semi-final spot in 32 years. WOW!
The result sees Belgium play France for a shot in the final, and Brazil suffer the ignominy of losing to three European sides at this stage in four World Cups.
Thoughts on the game
First, and foremost, I have to come on to Neymar who was up no good, as usual. He’s a great talent, but his penchant for going down easily has got to be called up. Its an action none of us like to see.
Secondly, the “penalty”. When I first saw the incident, I thought it was penalty straight away, but after looking a replays, not giving a penalty was the wrong decision. Kompany does catch Jesus. How was that not given? I have no idea!
Belgium were keen to avoid a repeat of what happened in the last round, and were clinical going forward. Brazil fluffed their lines many times, and just didn’t have that finishing style (that is until they scored, but proved to be too little, too late).
Man of the match – Thibaut Courtois kept his side in the game multiple times! If it wasn’t for him, Belgium would’ve been out of it!