AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 23: Belgium Knock Out Brazil; France Over Uruguay
France and Belgium won their quarter-finals on Friday to set up a semi-final clash on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg. France began the day with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay. The win puts France into the semis for the first time since 2006. Belgium meanwhile were able to overcome a series of disappointing tournaments in recent years by coming out on top over Brazil 2-1.
France v Uruguay 2-0
Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scored to give France the 2-0 win over Uruguay and see Didier Deschamps’ side into the semi-finals. The Uruguayans missed injured striker Edinson Cavani, however they started well and only a wonderful save by Hugo Lloris off a header from a corner and a terrible ensuing miss by Diego Godin kept them from taking the lead.
With five minutes left in the half, it was Varane who France in front, beating his marker to a corner to head home past Fernando Muslera. The goal seemed to take the wind out of sails of Oscar Tabarez’s men. The Uruguayan boss made a double change in the 59th minute, but his plans were hit hard just two minutes later. Griezmann found space and shot from outside the box, Muslera mishandled the ball and it ended up in the net, 2-0 to France.
Uruguay look bereft of ideas and France saw out the remaining half-hour fairly comfortably and move on.
Brazil v Belgium 1-2
Both sides had chances in the opening minutes, but Belgium managed to put theirs away. The Belgian counter-attack in the first half-hour was deadly. Belgium took the lead through a Fernandinho own goal from a Eden Hazard corner and flick-on by Vincent Kompany. Brazil pushed forward searching for the equalizer and in doing so left all sorts of space for the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. A lightning quick counter on the half-hour saw Lukaku go on a 35-yard run, spread the ball out to De Bruyne who unleashed a vicious blast past Brazilian goalkeeper Allison to make it 2-0.
Thibaut Courtois was in brilliant form in the first half, making save after save from numerous Brazilian attacks. The second half began with Brazil trying their best to get back into the match as they dominated possession. Belgium were happy to sit back and counter and they contonued to create problems for Brazil in transition. With fifteen minutes remaining, Phillipe Coutinho’s clever pass picked out substitute Renato Augusto in the box and he headed past Courtois to make it 2-1.
Brazil looked good for another goal, but it wasn’t to be. Heavy pressure toward the end saw Augusto and Coutinho missed very good chances and just near the end Neymar shot’s looked promising, but the excellent Courtois was there again to make the save. Belgium’s golden generation finally have been able to advance to the semi-finals of a major competition.
No direct Greek connections in today’s matches
GOAL OF THE DAY
Kevin de Bruyne’s fantastic strike from the top of the area to give Belgium a 2-0 lead was the pick of the day’s goals. It wasn’t only the actual shot, but also Lukaku’s long run and pass that preceded it that made this such a superb goal.
No Cavani, no progress for Uruguay
France roll on to semis
Belgium use blistering start to eliminate Brazil
Brazil put the pressure on too late as defensive problems in first half led to defeat
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
Two quarter-finals set for Saturday will give us the competition’s two other semi-finalists. In the day’s first game Sweden and England meet in Samara. Later on, it’s the hosts Russia taking on Croatia in Sochi.
by George Tsitsonis
Image Source: Guardian.com