Belgium beats Brazil as France eases out Uruguay for semifinal clash

Brazil’s defender Miranda (R) marks Belgium’s forward Romelu Lukaku during the Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Brazil and Belgium at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on July 6, 2018.<br />Jewel SAMAD / AFP

A superb first-half strike from Kevin De Bruyne helped Belgium defeat Brazil 2-1 to book a place in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.It was a goal made in Manchester with the City playmaker firing into the far corner for Belgium’s second after being played in by United striker Romelu Lukaku.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois pulled off some fantastic saves, including a fine stop from Neymar in stoppage time, but it was an unfortunate night for Brazil and Man City midfielder Fernandinho, who deflected the ball into his own net for Belgium’s first goal.Belgium, who also had Toby Alderweireld (Spurs), Vincent Kompany (Man City), Jan Vertonghen (Spurs), Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd) and Eden Hazard (Chelsea) in their starting line-up, will now play France in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

Earlier, France beat Uruguay 2-0 to be in the last four of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2006.The match included an outstanding stop from Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who denied Uruguay’s Martin Caceres with a diving save to his right.

Paul Pogba (Man Utd), N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud (both Chelsea) were also in France’s starting line-up. France are into the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after seeing off Uruguay with the help of a terrible error by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

In terms of excitement, this quarter-final tie did not come close to Les Bleus’ win over Argentina in the last 16 but will still be remembered for the contrasting fates of the two goalkeepers, with Hugo Lloris producing a contender for save of the tournament while his opposite number made a mistake that was even more memorable.

Raphael Varane headed France into a first-half lead from a free-kick that came straight off the training field, with Antoine Griezmann checking his run before delivering the perfect cross for the Real Madrid defender to glance home.

Uruguay, with injured striker Edinson Cavani failing to even make the bench, almost struck back immediately from a free-kick of their own, but Lloris produced a brilliant diving stop to deny Martin Caceres, before Diego Godin blasted the rebound over.

The second half started with France continuing to control possession, but they were gifted the goal that made certain of their victory.There seemed little danger when Griezmann let fly from the edge of the area but Muslera misjudged the flight of the ball, flapped at the shot, and saw it loop slowly over the line.

Uruguay, roared on by their huge travelling support, threw bodies forward in the closing stages but could not seriously trouble Lloris again.Their run of four successive victories is over, as well as their hopes of reaching the final in Moscow on 15 July.It is France who march on, and they will face neighbours Belgium in the semi-finals in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

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