The golden generation of Belgian football rose to the occasion to reach the World Cup semi-finals, beating Brazil 2-1 in Kazan.
It was an enthralling encounter in Kazan with an array of world class talents coming to blows. Open, fast-paced and dynamic, this was football at it’s entertaining best.
Brazil came closest first inside 10 minutes. A corner was flicked on by Miranda to his partner at the back Thiago Silva, but it caught him off guard, hitting his knee and then the post.
A second corner not long after again caused problems with the ball evading all red shirts, luckily not converted by those in yellow.
Funnily enough, after close shaves, a Belgium corner brought the opener. Vincent Kompnay glancing on Kevin De Bruyne’s corner and ricocheting off Fernandinho into the back of the net.
This set a fire in the Red Devils as their terrifying front three took charge. Eden Hazard was flawless in footwork, constantly creating but as their lead was doubled, it was his colleagues that conjured up something magic.
Romelu Lukaku was superb, towering above defenders, looking sharp and strong as he drove away from Paulinho and Fernandinho on the half-way line. Pushing on he picked out De Bruyne, who arrowed the ball into the far corner, ruthless.
‘Selecao’ were shaken. But they had enough chances in the first half, Tibo Courtois thwarting Philipe Coutinho and preventing an own goal off Toby Alderweireld.
Into the second half, Belgium were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Vincent Kompany dived into Gabriel Jesus at the byline, despite VAR looking, nothing given.
Douglas Costa was introduced and forced a couple more saves from Courtois, the Europeans were hanging on. Until another substitute pulled Brazil back into it. Coutinho with a wonderful cross and Renato Augusto steered the header home, 15 minutes left.
Belgium were resolute, Marouane Fellaini and Axel Witsel were the barricades blocking efforts, Alderweireld silenced Neymar and Hazard was magnificent as an outlet. Neymar had the last chance but Courtois clawed the ball over in added time.
Belgium reach their first semi-final since 1986 and guarantee an all-European World Cup final, fancy Roberto Martinez guiding a nation to the semi-finals? A mesmerising tie awaits in the last four, France the next opponents for Belgium.