World Cup: Belgium Packs Its Penalty Box, Then Counter-attacks to Knock Brazil Out 2 – 1


Belgium exults. Photo: Facebook

When goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved a sensational spinning shot by Neymar, pushing the ball over the crossbar in the 94th minute, it became obvious that the football Gods were smiling on the Belgians.

It was that kind of day for Brazil, the nation that thinks it has the best World Cup soccer team, with numerous amazing saves by the Belgian goalie. It took a tremendous header by Renato Augusto on a soft touch pass by Philippe Coutinho, for the Brazilians to find the back of the net.

That was not enough. Belgium had already scored twice in the first half, forcing Brazil to play catch up for the rest of the game. The Brazilian defense did tighten up in the second half; keeping Brazil in the game.

The Brazilians played some wonderful soccer with good ball movement. The Belgians packed their penalty box for much of the game. Time and again Brazil’s shots bounced harmlessly away off the thick forest of Belgian legs inside the box or the ball was was snared by Courtois.

The Belgians on the other hand, remained dangerous throughout the game with their counter-attack strategy. They could have scored as many as three more goals with better finishing-passes during numerous break-aways.

Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian star striker played on the right wing. He didn’t score but harassed the Brazilian defense and midfield with runs all day. He contributed to the decisive second goal by moving the ball quickly up the middle and dishing off a through pass just before he was fouled–he was still lying on the ground as his teammate Kevin De Bruyne ran down the ball and unleashed a tremendous shot into the far right back of the post.

Belgium’s first goal came from a corner kick from the left side. The ball was quickly flicked with a swivel-neck header by Vincent Kompany and it deflected off defender Fernandinho’s right shoulder and past the Brazilian goalie.

Brazil mounted several furious comeback attempts and helped provide entertaing soccer until the final whistle. The Brazilian players seem never discouraged and after the team scored a goal they stepped up their game, hoping to force the match into over Time.

But not today, when the Belgian goalie was inspired, determined and simply spectacular as when he denied Neymar’s last serious attempt.

Neymar, at age 26 has more shots at a World Cup trophy . For the other soccer legends, Messi and Ronaldo, aged 31 and 33 respectively, the window is closing or may have closed.

Belgium will now play France –which dominated and beat Uruguay 2-0 in the earlier match, in the semi-final.

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