KAZAN: Midfielder Kevin de Bruyne hailed Brazil “a wonderful team” after Belgium beat the record five-times World Cup-winners 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the 2018 tournament writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

De Bruyne, who scored what proved the crucial second goal in the first half, was outstanding in a more positive role than he had played in the previous games.

Belgium went ahead through a Fernandinho own goal and had to battle to hang on in the closing stages after Brazil had pulled one goal back through substitute Renato Augusto.

De Bruyne said: “It is not easy to play against Brazil, they are such a wonderful team. But I think the power we have as a team we showed today. Especially in the first half, we were magnificent. We took the advantage.

“In the second half they changed tactically and it was difficult, but even then we created some chances. After their goal it was a character test and we showed the world what we are capable of.”

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was voted man of the match, said: “This is incredible. This team wants to win every game. Against England, a lot of people said it was better to lose than to draw, but we wanted to win every game.

“We chose maybe the hardest part [of the draw] but we have confidence in our team. I have been unfairly criticised a lot this year. Today I have proved who I am and why I am here. I’m very happy with it.”

‘Incredible hearts’

Coach Roberto Martinez has been in charge of Belgium for only two years since taking over from Marc Wilmots after the defeat by Wales in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 in France.

Martinez said: “There were incredible hearts out there. Sometimes you have to accept that Brazil have so much finesse and quality that they’re going to break you down. But we didn’t accept it. Not for one minute did they give up. This was something special.

“These boys deserve to be very special people back in Belgium. I hope everybody back in Belgium is very proud.

“The execution of the tactics was magnificent. In two days they changed their tactical disposition, I couldn’t be prouder. We cannot let people down. We need to enjoy beating Brazil in the knockout phase, treasure it, and pass it down the generations. But then we need more energy for the next game. We will be as good as we can be in the semi-final.”