Twitter Erupts to Give Brazil And Neymar a Send Off
Five-time champion Brazil were knocked out of the World Cup on Friday by Belgium, who have made it to the semi-finals for the first time in 32 years.
Belgium scored the decisive goal on a counterattack just after a corner had been taken by Neymar. Romelu Lukaku surged forward with the ball and Kevin De Bruyne put it in the net to give Belgium a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute.
The opener came after a bit of good fortune. Fernandinho's trailing arm inadvertently helped Belgium captain Vincent Kompany's header land in his own net in the 13th minute.
As Belgium lost cohesiveness in the second half and Brazil's changes stirred the team, substitute Renato Augusto reduced the deficit in the 76th with a header.
But it was too late for Brazil to muster an equaliser as efforts to force the game into extra time were thwarted by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
With eight shutouts in the last nine games, including three in the four games in Russia, Brazil had the tightest defense of the remaining teams at the World Cup. But it was breached after 13 minutes in Tatarstan.
Fernandinho's own-goal ensured for the first time since March 2017 that Brazil was trailing in a competitive match. Unlike then — an eventual 4-1 victory over Uruguay — there was no comeback.
Humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals fours year ago on home soil, Brazil didn't even get that far this time. Just like defending champion Germany and Argentina before them, the Kazan Arena is where Brazil's World Cup challenge ended.
For the third time in a World Cup — after 1982 and 2006 — the semifinals will feature only European teams. There is guaranteed to be a fourth straight European team winning the World Cup on July 15 in Moscow.
What a game Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had! The Belgian goal was an impenetrable barrier, courtesy Courtois.
Belgium is now on a 24-match unbeaten streak. Belgium, which finished fourth at the 1986 tournament and has never won the European Championship, will hope its golden generation can deliver its first trophy.
Criticised for his playacting, Neymar again went down lightly under minimal contact from Marouane Fellaini at the start of the second half. But as the referee started to seek a video review, Neymar appeared to urge him against it.
So, Twitter suggested him the best way to return home.
Neymar had other options too.
(With inputs from AP)
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