Brazil's lack of a genuine midfield playmaker doomed their World Cup run

RUSSIA 2018 Gabriel Jesus has started all four of Brazil's games at the World Cup

RUSSIA 2018 Gabriel Jesus has started all four of Brazil's games at the World Cup

Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 in Kazan to set the first semi-final of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ in stone, and booking their return to the final four for the first time in three decades.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has opted to make two changes to the team that started the 3-2 win over Japan, bringing in goalscorers Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli for Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens.

A Fernandinho own goal in the 13th minute followed by a superb Kevin De Bruyne strike just after the half-hour put Belgium in the driving seat. Renato Augusto heads in a cross from Coutinho. Lukaku quickly darted into the heart of Brazil's midfield and easily fed De Bruyne who launched a long-range laser past a diving Alisson for the 2-0 lead at the 31st minute.

On 21 minutes De Bruyne set up Hazard on a free run inside to set up Thomas Meunier, only for Miranda to block his intended cross for Lukaku.

Kevin De Bruyne scores a shocking second goal for Belgium off the counter attack.

Four years ago at home they were humiliated with a 7-1 defeat in the semi-final to Germany.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, though, made a fine saves from Coutinho and Serbian referee Milorad Mazic waved away penalty appeals from Neymar and Gabriel Jesus.

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Up next for Roberto Martinez's side will be a highly anticipated semifinal matchup with their southern neighbors, France, the last remaining pre-tournament favorite still breathing. "But now it is time for each of us to defend our corner and I hope to come out on top", Willian said.

Following Belgium's win, Fabregas threw shade at Neymar by suggesting that his Chelsea pal had overtaken the Brazilian as the third best player on the planet.

And they're finally beginning to play like a well-gelled unit.

"There has been so much debate about Neymar simulating fouls or wasting time on the floor, but I think that in a competition like this - with VAR - we shouldn't be paying too much attention to this", Betfair ambassador and 2002 World Cup victor, Rivaldo said.

Brazil and Belgium face off in Friday's second World Cup quarter-final for the right to face France in the last four of the competition.

Since beating Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final, the five-time victor has been eliminated by European sides in the three subsequent competitions. There was the penalty shout that fell on deaf ears after striker Gabriel Jesus - who went scoreless in Russian Federation - was taken down by Vincent Kompany 10 minutes into the second half.

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