Belgium hold off Brazil in thriller to reach semis

World Cup QF: Both Brazil, Belgium battling bad vibes

FIFA World Cup 2018: Brazil will find it difficult to topple Belgium

A tactical change proved decisive as Kevin De Bruyne hit the victor that sent five-time champions Brazil sensationally crashing out on Wednesday and kept underdogs Belgium's World Cup hopes alive.

Brazil started brightly but Fernandinho headed into his own net from a corner after 13 minutes and a stunning counter-attack saw Romelu Lukaku feed De Bruyne, who blasted home in the 31st minute.

The 1-0 scoreline didn't last long, as Belgium doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark.

The 2018 World Cup may have been the last for several Brazil players, with nine of their 23-man squad in their 30s.

Argentina lost its Round of 16 clash with France at the ground, which is the home stadium for Russian Premier League side, Rubin Kazan. Belgium entered the tournament with one of the few squads that could come close to matching Brazil's quality man-for-man, and Tite's team hadn't really been tested - other than in a group stage draw with Switzerland - through its first four games Russian Federation.

Trailing for the first time in the World Cup, a focused Seleção came out in the second looking determined to get on the scoreboard.

Belgium and France will meet in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

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Danilo played in Brazil's opener against Switzerland but missed the matches against Costa Rica and Serbia because of a right hip injury sustained in training. Belgium has scored 12 goals in the tournament, with Romelu Lukaku sitting in second place in tournament scoring with four of those goals in three matches.

Real Madrid defender Marcelo, who was a threat to Belgium throughout thanks to his marauding runs down the left flank, summed up feelings when he said: "It was a frightful night". They will wait for Brazil to take control of the match but will also have their moments of offensive power.

Though Brazil has yet to hit the heights on the attacking front, it and Uruguay have been the meanest defences in the competition, conceding just one goal apiece in four matches.

Fortunately for the Selecao, Belgium has a poor record against South American sides at the World Cup. Vincent Kompant, Fernandinho's teammate at Manchester City, rose above the scrum to get his head to Nacer Chadli's corner kick, but didn't make the cleanest of contact.

However, the Brazilians looked extremely vulnerable to Belgium's counterattacking threat.

For Belgium, defender Jan Vertonghen and De Bruyne are carrying yellow cards as well.

But Brazil needed to be better, too, as Augusto and Philippe Coutinho both failed to put golden chances on target with the clock ticking toward full time.

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