AP PHOTOS: Defenses crack, last of World Cup’s giants falls
MOSCOW (AP) — Uruguay and Brazil have won seven World Cups between them, a third of all World Cups that have been played. They came into the quarterfinals in Russia missing key players but boasting the tournament’s toughest defenses. Friday, though, was for the new guard. Without top scorer Edinson Cavani, Uruguay struggled to respond when France went up on Raphael Varane’s header. And when Antoine Griezmann’s tricky blast from outside the box glanced off Fernando Muslera’s hands and into the net to make it 2-0, scrappy Uruguay was minutes from going home in tears.
Brazil was about to be feeling the same thing. Everything seemed to be clicking for Neymar & Co., who like the Uruguayans had allowed just one goal in four matches. Then a Belgium header went off Fernandinho and into his net — the record 11th own-goal of the tournament — and the stout Brazilian defense parted for Romelu Lukaku to feed to Kevin De Bruyne on a break, and De Bruyne’s rocket had the Brazilians in trouble. They pulled one back and had chances to tie. They couldn’t, they are done, and Belgium is moving on.