Five-times World Cup champions Brazil bowed out of the World Cup last week after a mediocre campaign was finally brought to an end by Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side in Kazan.
In a crunch match in which Brazil would have to show their mettle and championship-winning credentials if they were to continue into the latter stages of the competition, the side found themselves behind early on when Nacer Chadli’s corner struck Fernandinho’s arm, beating an unsuspecting Alisson.
Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russia and their opponents took advantage of the malaise that followed the surprise goal – creating a number of chances against a time that seemed shell shocked by the nature of the manner in which they fell behind.
The Red Devils doubled their lead in the second half when a dangerous driving run by Belgian centre forward Romelu Lukaku was finished off by a scintillating finish by Kevin de Bruyne, whose shot was no match for the Brazilian keeper.
The second Belgian goal was a wake-up call for the men in yellow who rallied, aware that their campaign was on the brink of coming to an end.
However, a string of fine saves from Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois saw their endeavours met with a 6’6” brick wall time and time again, in what was for many the finest goalkeeping performance of the tournament.
The Belgian defences were finally breached in the 76th minute when Renato Augusto’s met a perfectly placed ball into the box with his head to bring the side back to within one goal.
For all their efforts, however, the Brazilians were ultimately unable to bring the tie back into parity and they must now make the long journey back home.
On the defeat, Brazil manager Tite said: “I thought it was a great match and we had a lot of it, with plenty of possession and a lot of opportunities. But Belgium were more effective in converting their opportunities.
“They have a lot of top players and finished well. Thibaut Courtois also made a real difference. For all the pain I feel right now, if you like football, you have to watch this game. It’s going to give you pleasure.”
The defeat leaves questions surrounding the manager’s future, with the side failing to make an impact in spite of it being arguably the strongest squad in the tournament.
As for Belgium, victory over such a strong side sees them become strong tournament favourites for the tournament as their golden generation prepares for a crunch match with neighbours and fierce rivals France.
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