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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

World Cup 2018: Day 23 as it happened: France and Belgium reach the semi-finals

France defeat Uruguay 2-0 and then Belgium shock Brazil in Friday's two quarter-finals

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne scelebrates scoring their second goal. Reuters
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne scelebrates scoring their second goal. Reuters

12.30am: Two down, two to go

So, we know two of the teams in the World Cup semi-finals. Well done to France and Belgium.

On Saturday we find out who the other two are.

First up at 6pm UAE time it is England v Sweden. Then at 10pm it is Russia v Croatia. If it is anything like Friday's action they should be crackers.

See you on Saturday.

11.55pm: Belgium have done it

In this World Cup of shocks I guess another one was inevitable.

Belgium have beaten five-time champions Brazil 2-1 and will face France on Tuesday for a place in the final on July 15.

Roberto Martinez's side held on after being put under real pressure by Brazil in the second half.

Fernandinho's own goal and Kevin de Bruyne's strike had given them a two-goal lead.

Brazil pulled one back through Renato Augusto, but they could not force an equaliser, despite five minutes of stoppage time.

Thibaut Courtois, the Belgium keeper, making a great late save to deny Neymar.

It is the first time Belgium have made the semi-finals since 1986

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10.55pm: Belgium in charge

Well, who saw that coming? Belgium are 2-0 up at half time and Brazil are really up against it.

The Belgians are in charge thanks to a Fernandinho own goal and a great strike from Kevin de Bruyne after a great counter-attack involving Romelu Lukaku.

Brazil have looked dangerous themselves, and Thiago Silva will still wonder how he hit the post from close range when it was goalless.

It is not over for Tite's men. Belgium will know better than anyone, having done it themselves to Japan on Monday, that a two-goal lead is not a match-clinching one at this stage.

The second half should be a cracker.

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10.05pm: Brazil v Belgium underway

The second quarter-final of the day is underway. Brazil have improved throughout the tournament as they go for a sixth title, but Belgium will be full of belief after scoring three times in the final 21 minutes to beat Japan 3-2 in their second round encounter on Monday.

A positive omen for Brazil is when the sides met at the World Cup in 2002, they triumphed and went on to lift the trophy that year.

Tite's men will be hoping history can repeat itself.

7.55pm - France are in World Cup semi-finals

Well, that was less stressful then expected. For only the second time in the knockout stages a game has been won by a two-goal margin as France triumph 2-0 over Uruguay.

The second goal, after Raphael Varane's first-half header, comes in soft fashion as Antoine Griezmann's shot from distance loops through goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's hands and into the net.

Uruguay offer little in reply, clearly limited without injured forward Edinson Cavani.

France will now play either Brazil or Belgium on Tuesday night in Saint Petersburg for a place in the final on July 15.

They will not have long to wait to find out who they face with Brazil v Belgium kicking off at 10pm UAE time in Kazan.

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6.50pm - France lead Uruguay at half time

This was always going to be a tense affair but it is France who have their noses in front at half time as they lead 1-0.

The goal came five minutes before the break as Raphael Varane gets on the end of Antoine Griezmann's curling free-kick from the right to nod home.

It has been a tight game, France probably just the better side over the first 45 minutes. This is the first time in the World Cup that Uruguay have been behind. Will be interesting to see what they can reply with in the second half.

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5.05pm - Cavani does not start for Uruguay

The teams are out for the first World Cup quarter-final at 6pm and there is no Edinson Cavani in the Uruguay team. The striker, who scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over Portugal last Saturday, has not recovered from injury so ex-Middlesbrough forward Cristhian Stuani will partner Luis Suarez.

For France, Corentin Tolisso replaces the suspended Blaise Matuidi.

Kick off is at 6pm UAE time.

1.40pm - Bad news for Brazil and Danilo

Manchester City defender Danilo has played his last part in the World Cup.

An ankle injury picked up on Thursday during training ahead of the side's quarter-final with Belgium on Friday means he is ruled out of the rest of the tournament.

Read the full story here.

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1.25pm - England's training times

England have undergone their final training session before they take the field on Saturday at 6pm UAE time against Sweden in Samara.

A gallery of action from the training session as Gareth Southgate put his squad through their paces is below.

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12.20pm - Russia getting behind England

England fans, after some of the violent clashes at Euro 2016 with Russian supporters, could have been forgiven for expecting the worst when they travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

But, instead they have been well received and the team have proven very popular with their hosts.

Gary Meenaghan spoke to some Russians to find out just why they were backing England, even in some cases at the expense of their own country. Read the story here.

England players training have plenty of support from Russia at the World Cup. Lee Smith / Reuters
England players training have plenty of support from Russia at the World Cup. Lee Smith / Reuters

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10.30am - A big day ahead

Good morning. So we are down to just eight teams left in the hunt to win the World Cup. By the close of play on Friday we will be down to six sides left in it with two quarter-finals to be played.

It is 1998 winners France against double champions Uruguay at 6pm, before five-time winners Brazil face Belgium at 10pm in Kazan.

It should be a cracking day's football and you can follow the action here with The National.

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Read more

Tite tasked with keeping Brazil 'mentally strong' ahead of World Cup quarter-final with Belgium

Griezmann puts friendships on hold when France face Uruguay in World Cup quarter-final

Marcus Berg interview: Sweden striker living in a 'bubble' as teamwork continues to drive World Cup dream

Predictions: Brazil end Belgium hopes as France, Croatia and England reach semis

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Wallchart