Recap: Belgium 2 – Brazil 1

Brazil got off to a fast start, enjoying nearly all of the possession for the first ten minutes.  Belgium’s first real opportunity came off of a corner kick in the eleventh minute.  The hard strike was headed for the center of the penalty area when Fernandinho got in the way.  The ball hit off his elbow and found its way past Alisson for the first goal of the match.

After the goal, Brazil once again took total control of the match.  Belgium defended ably for the most part, but did have a few close calls.  Some of the defending was desperate, but Thibaut Courtois remained untested.

Just after the half hour mark, Belgium doubled their lead with a second goal that was against the run of play.  Marouane Fellaini headed a Neymar inswinger out of danger to Romelu Lukaku.  Lukaku took the ball most of the length of the pitch, dodging defenders along the way.  He then played the ball off beautifully to Kevin De Bruyne, who slotted the ball past Allison from the edge of the area.

Brazil’s best chance of the first half came in the 37th minute, when Marcelo threatened from the outside of the area.  His strike was the best chance that the South Americans had in the first half.  Courtois put it out for a corner.

Belgium could’ve put the match out of reach in the 41st minute.  De  Bruyen launched a rocket of a free-kick that Alisson nudged over the bar.  Kompany nudged a tricky ball on target off of the corner, but the Brazilian keeper handled it comfortably.

The South Americans started the second half much the way they did the first.  Firmino had the first good opportunity of the second half.  Five minutes in, he took a pass from Marcelo and challenged Courtois, but the Chelsea keeper was up to the task.

Minutes later, Kompany took Gabriel Jesus with a challenge in the area.  Brazil appealed for a penalty.  After checking with VAR officials, the referee made the decision not to award a penalty.

It took the Belgians about a quarter of an hour to get their first good opportunity of the second half.  Not surprisingly, it was on a counter-attack.  De Bruyne fed Eden Hazard, who did not miss by much in his effort to put the Europeans up 3-0.

Brazil broke quickly the other way and created yet another opportunity.  Douglas Costa took a strong shot that was stopped by Courtois.  The rebound went to Paulinho, who was unable to do anything with it.

The five-time champions finally got on the board with fifteen minutes to go.  Coutinho flipped the ball into a dangerous area and Renato Augusto headed it home, sending the Brazilian fans into a frenzy.  Augusto had come on as a substitute just three minutes earlier.

The South Americans would create a few more opportunities in the closing minutes, none better than a Neymar strike from just outside the area in the third minute of injury time.  Courtois managed to get his fingers to it and put it out of play.  Brazil did not threaten with the ensuing corner.

The result was more than fair, especially to the Belgian keeper, who made some phenomenal stops.  The Belgians defended capably and punished Brazil when they had the chance.  Their victory gives them what should be a great match up with France in the semifinals.

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