What happened overnight?

Belgium announced themselves as genuine World Cup contenders, sensationally dumping out five-time champions Brazil 2-1 in Kazan.

That left the tournament devoid of South American sides after Uruguay, without the injured Edinson Cavani, were earlier eliminated 2-0 by a clinical France who reached the World Cup semi-finals for the sixth time.

Belgium were 20 minutes from going out of the tournament against Japan in the round-of-16 before pulling their campaign out of the fire with three late goals.

Against Brazil today they showed the quality, class and work ethic which has many believing this may finally be the year they win a major tournament.

Kevin de Bruyne’s goal which put them 2-0 up was an arrow into the bottom corner and a dagger into the heart of the South Americans and capped an exceptional display from the Manchester City midfielder.

Belgium then showed their defensive steel, holding off an increasingly desperate Brazilian side that pulled a goal back through Renato Augusto, but couldn’t find an equaliser.

Meantime, elegant French defender Raphael Varane kept Luis Suarez shackled throughout the early game, preventing the Uruguayan superstar from firing off a single shot or – remarkably – even getting a touch of the football inside the penalty area.

There have been questions asked about the French defence during this tournament, but Varane impressively marshalled a back-four which – apart from him – contained three 22-year-olds, to keep Suarez and his countrymen at bay.

Varane also popped up to nod home his side’s opener after 40 minutes; it was just the second time the South Americans had conceded in 400 minutes at the tournament and the first time they’d been behind during the 2018 World Cup.

Stat chat

Belgium are unbeaten in their last 24 matches (W19 D5), a national record and the longest current run of any team left in the 2018 World Cup.

Excluding own goals, Kevin De Bruyne became the 100th different player to score at the 2018 World Cup.

Brazil have now been eliminated by a European side in each of the last four World Cups (France 2006, Netherlands 2010, Germany 2014 and Belgium 2018).

France have never lost when Antoine Griezmann has scored, collecting 18 wins and 2 draws in those games.

France’s two goals came from their only two shots on target and they have now scored with their last six shots on target at this tournament.

Uruguay haven’t won any of their last 17 World Cup games in which they’ve conceded the first goal (D3, L14), since beating France 2-1 in 1966.


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