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World Cup semifinals set in Russia

Belgium, France, England and Croatia have all made it to the final four at the World Cup

July 08, 2018 - 10:04 am

Mike Jafari reporting

The quarterfinals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is in the books with only four teams now in the running to win soccer's most prestigious championship.

The action got started on Friday with France knocking off Uruguay, 2-0 in Nizhny Novgorod. Raphaël Varane opened the scoring for France after getting a piece of a free kick with his head in the 40th minute. The crushing blow for Uruguay came in the 61st minute when Antoine Griezmann's shot was knocked up in the air by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, but the ball got behind him and rolled into the net.

With the win, France is set for a semifinal matchup with Belgium, who managed to pull off a 2-1 win over Brazil in Kazan on Friday.

Belgium got the early lead in the 13th minute of action after a corner kick went of Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho for an own goal. Belgium followed that 18 minutes later with a goal from striker Kevin De Bruyne from just outside the penalty area.

Brazil managed to pull within one with a goal from Renato Augusto in the 76th minute, but Brazil couldn't pull even from there and their chances at winning a sixth World Cup would come to an end.

France and Belgium will square off in the first semifinal matchup on Tuesday at 2 p.m. from Saint Petersburg.

The other semifinal matchup on Wednesday will feature England facing off against Croatia at 2 p.m. from Moscow.

The English football club cruised to the semifinals after beating Sweden 2-0 on Saturday in Samara. It was Harry Maguire who opened the scoring for England with a header off a corner kick in the 30th minute. After the half, England put the game on ice with a goal from Dele Alli in the 58th minute off a header next to the Swedish goal.

As for Croatia, their road to the semifinals was not so easy as they had to beat host nation Russia in penalty kicks in Sochi. After going to extra time tied at 1-1, Croatia took the lead at the 100th minute as Domagoj Vida headed in a corner to put pressure on the home team. With five minutes left until stoppage time, the Russians tied the contest as Mário Fernandes heads in a free kick to send the game to penalty kicks.

In the penalty kicks, Fernandes misses wide in the third round of kicks to put Russia behind the eight ball. It proved to be costly as Croatia managed to net the next three kicks to put themselves into the final four of the World Cup.

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