World Cup – The quarter-finals: France, Belgium and England march on

The quarter-finals of Russia 2018 sustained the tournaments’ running theme of high drama with a major shock and several wondrous moment.

Notable mentions:

* Uruguay vs France: Goals either side of half time from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann saw France eliminate Uruguay.

* Belgium vs Brazil: Roberto Martinez’s side secured a deserved 2-1 victory over Brazil.

* England vs Sweden: England produced an assured performance to beat Janne Andersson’s side 2-0.

* Russia vs Croatia: Russia’s tournament ended in shootout elimination after a 2-2 draw with Croatia in Sochi.

Uruguay 0-2 France

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France secured semi-final qualification after beating in Nizhny Novgorod, with the huge aid of a monumental goalkeeping error from Uruguayan stopper Fernando Muslera.

Raphael Varane headed Les Bleus into a first half lead when the Real Madrid defender glanced an Antoine Griezmann free-kick into the bottom corner. Griezmann also played a major role in the second goal, unleashing a left-footed drive from the edge of the area that Muslera completely misjudged, flapping at the shot, only to witness it loop slowly over the line.

Belgium 2-1 Brazil

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Belgium produced the shock of the quarter-finals to eliminate five-times World Champions Brazil in Kazan.

Tite’s side conceded just their second goal of the tournament in the 13th minute, and it came in an untidy and unfortunate manner- Nacer Chadli’s whipped corner striking Fernandinho on the arm, to fly into the net. Roberto Martinez’s side doubled their lead on the half hour mark. Romelu Lukaku’s barnstorming run through the heart of Brazil’s uncharacteristically open midfield set up Kevin de Bruyne, who made no mistake in converting a majestic, low finish from 20 yards.

Renato Augusto’s late finish from a sublime, over-the-top pass from Coutinho was to prove a mere consolation for Brazil.

Belgium progress to the semi-finals for the first time since 1986.

England march on

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Goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli either side of the interval booked England’s first World Cup semi-final since Italia 90.

Their threat from set-pieces was underlined once again on the half-hour mark, as Maguire rose highest to send a bullet header flashing past Swedish stopper Robin Olsen from Ashley Young’s perfect corner. The Three Lions’ place in the last four was sealed in the 58th minute, when Dele Alli found himself in space at the back post, to expertly head in Jesse Lingard’s cross.

Gareth Southgate’s side will now play for a place in the final against Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday evening.

Croatia eliminate Russia in shootout

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Ivan Rakitic struck the decisive spot-kick to ensure Croatia won their second consecutive penalty shootout of the tournament.

Penalties came after an action-packed extra time period that saw Mario Fernandes convert a header in the 115th minute to cancel out Domagoj Vida’s headed effort, that wormed through a crowd of players beyond Igor Akinfeev.

In the first half, Denis Cheryshev’s left-footed screamer after half an hour had been cancelled out by a close-range Andrej Kramaric header.

Follow Hal on Twitter @HalWalker


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