2018 FIFA World Cup: Brazil, Uruguay Sent Home as Belgium and France Enter Semifinals

2018 FIFA World Cup: Brazil, Uruguay Sent Home as  Belgium and France Enter Semifinals2018 FIFA World Cup: Brazil, Uruguay Sent Home as  Belgium and France Enter Semifinals

Raphael Varane’s glancing header and a goalkeeping blunder that gifted Antoine Griezmann a soft goal gave France a 2-0 victory over Uruguay in the first World Cup quarterfinal on Friday and set it up for a last-four tie with Belgium.

Uruguay went into the game without key striker Edinson Cavani, who was ruled out with a calf injury, with Cristhian Stuani drafted into the starting line-up, Reuters reported.

The impact on the attack was noticeable. Without Cavani, who scored twice in the round of 16 win against Portugal, Uruguay’s moves in the front lacked a focal point, and Luis Suarez found less space and openings against a well-drilled French defense.

“I think we deserve the result,” said France’s coach Didier Deschamps, a World Cup winner with France in 1998.

“We were better than they were today. We had far more mastery, especially in the second half. We didn’t want to give them any opportunity. The attitude is there but we have margin for improvement,” he added.

France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had ripped apart Argentina in the previous round with his directness and pace, wasted a good opportunity to open the scoring in the 15th minute when Olivier Giroud headed across the box to him but the 19-year-old’s looping header was off-target.

A relatively quiet game burst into life in the 40th minute when Varane sprinted clear of his marker to meet a well-placed Griezmann free kick with a perfectly angled header.

Moments later, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ensured his side went in at the break with the advantage, producing a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a Martin Caceres header although Diego Godin will be disappointed his follow-up shot was wildly off target.

If that was an example of goalkeeping at its very best, Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera showed how easily it can go wrong for the custodian with a horrendous error to gift France their second goal in the 61st minute.

Griezmann tried his luck with an effort from outside the box which was straight at Muslera, but the keeper’s ill-chosen attempt to palm the ball away ended with him merely deflecting it into the net.

 Last South American Out

Belgium used a combination of daring, intelligence and resilience to oust World Cup favorite Brazil 2-1 in a memorable quarterfinal tie on Friday that would have made a worthy final.

After disappointing quarterfinal exits in the last two major tournaments, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has instilled some self-belief in an outstandingly talented generation of players that seemed to have been missing in the past.

Martinez changed Belgium’s formation and started the game with the line-up that finished the 3-2 win over Japan, when his side came roaring back from two goals down.

Brazil’s usually impregnable defense, which had conceded only six goals in 25 matches under coach Tite, suddenly looked very vulnerable and was repeatedly sliced apart in the opening half hour.

A Fernandinho own goal and brilliant Kevin De Bruyne strike earned Belgium a date with France in St Petersburg on Tuesday, their second trip to the last four at a World Cup after 1986.

After conceding two goals, Brazil looked as if it might capitulate as it did in the astonishing 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany four years ago.

But the South Americans pulled themselves together and came charging back after halftime, showing Belgium that they too have a resilient side - something which many had doubted.

Neymar, however, could find no way through as his runs down the left were repeatedly blocked and he was reduced to desperate appeals for penalties.

Belgium also used intelligence to break up Brazil’s momentum it they kept possession in midfield, frustrating the Brazilians and forcing them into giving away free kicks which cost the South Americans precious seconds.

Eden Hazard played a key role for Belgium as he forced Fernandinho into a tackle which cost him a yellow card, then drew a foul from Miranda which he celebrated as if he had scored a goal.

Keeper Thibaut Courtois made several outstanding saves for Belgium including one in the fourth minute of stoppage time to turn away a Neymar shot that was heading for the top corner.


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