MX23RW : Thursday, February 21 18:53:54

Live Commentary: Brazil 1-2 Belgium - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Belgium's 2-1 win against Brazil, as the Red Devils pulled off a surprise win to reach the World Cup semis.
Live Commentary: Brazil 1-2 Belgium - as it happened
© Reuters

Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 at the Kazan Arena on Friday evening to book their place in the semi-finals of the World Cup for just the second time in their history.

A Fernandinho own goal gave the Red Devils an early lead, which they added to through an arrowed drive from a more advanced Kevin De Bruyne.

The Selecao did pull one back via substitute Renato Augusto, but it was not enough as they were sent crashing out.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

6.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the World Cup quarter-final between Brazil and Belgium at the Kazan Arena. This second last-eight tie brings together two sides who simply do not tend to lose football matches; pre-tournament favourites Brazil tasting defeat just once in the last two years and the Red Devils putting together a 23-man unbeaten run.

6.02pmWe already know one of the 2018 semi-finalists, as France overcome Uruguay 2-0 at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium a little earlier. La Celeste had built their run to this stage of the competition on a solid defence, shipping just one goal throughout 2018, but they gave away a couple of sloppy goals to bring their campaign to an end. The question now is who will they face next week? We will soon find out...


STARTING XI: Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Meunier, Witsel, Fellaini, Chadli; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku

SUBS: Mignolet, Casteels, Vermaelen, Carrasco, Mertens, T. Hazard, Tielemans, Januzaj, Dembele, Boyata, Batshuayi, Dendoncker

6.06pmStarting with a look at the team fielded by Roberto Martinez, the Red Devils show a couple of changes from their dramatic 3-2 victory against Japan earlier this week. That match was turned on its head following the introduction of Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini, so it perhaps comes as little surprise to see both men slot into the starting lineup here. Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens are the pair to miss out.

6.08pmChadli will operate at left wing-back, on the opposite flank to the productive Thomas Meunier, while Marouane Fellaini is in his normal central midfield position alongside Axel Witsel. The absence of Mertens means that Kevin De Bruyne will be pushed into a more advanced position, used in the forward line alongside Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard - very much a Premier League all-star lineup.

6.10pmThe other alternative for Martinez was to stick with De Bruyne in central midfield, where he has never looked entirely comfortable, and bring in Mousa Dembele to help control things in the middle of the park. It is like-for-like, though, while at the back Vincent Kompany has returned to peak fitness after being given 15 minutes against England and the full 90 against Japan. Kompany starts alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.


STARTING XI: Allison; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Fernandinho, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus

SUBS: Ederson, Cassio, Geromel, Filipe Luis, D. Costa, Augusto, Marquinhos, Fred, Firmino, Taison

6.14pmThere are no surprises in Brazil's starting lineup, as boss Tite effectively announced the side he intended to field at his pre-match press conference. Casemiro is forced out of the side through suspension, having picked up his second caution of the tournament against Mexico, so in comes Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho. Marcelo has recovered from a back injury that ruled him out of that last-16 tie, meanwhile, and takes over from Felipe Luis at left-back.

6.16pmThere are no other changes in the Brazil XI, meaning that Willian and Gabriel Jesus retain their places in the forward line, despite coming under pressure from fit-again Douglas Costa and Firmino respectively. Neymar and Philippe Coutinho were never at risk of losing their sports in the side, with both men impressing in recent matches, and Fagner is assured of his place at right-back due to Danilo's World Cup-ending injury.

6.18pmWorryingly for Tite, two of those aforementioned star men in Coutinho and Neymar, as well as the benched Felipe Luis, are one booking away from missing the semi-final should his side make it that far. Belgium have even more players walking a tightrope, as Meunier, De Bruyne, Vertonghen, Yuri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker have each picked up one booking across the Red Devils' opening four games.

6.20pmTite and Roberto Martinez make two changes apiece from the last 16. Brazil welcome Marcelo back from injury, while Fernandinho comes in for the suspended Casemiro in defensive midfield. As for Belgium, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli are rewarded for their match-changing displays from the bench against Japan, taking over from Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and assistant Thierry Henry during the friendly against Costa Rica on June 11, 2018© Reuters

6.22pmThe World Cup's most successful nation head into this match occupying second place in the latest FIFA rankings, one spot above opponents Belgium. They may have five previous titles to their name, but it is fair to say that Brazil are duo another crown as it has been 16 years since they last triumphed on the world stage. That is simply too long for the 211 million expectant natives back home.

6.24pmBrazil were knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010 before being thrashed in the semi-finals on home soil by Germany four years ago. This is seen as a shot at redemption, then, although anything less than victory in the July 15 final will fall short of the Selecao's only target. Tite's men are not helped, however, by the fact that they are in the tougher half of the draw.

6.26pmThey may be the pre-tournament favourites, and their odds have only increased, but Brazil must overcome a star-studded Belgium side and then fellow heavyweights France if they are to compete in the final. Things did not look so bright for them just a couple of weeks back, having failed to win their opening match at the World Cup for the first time since 1978 as they were held 1-1 by Switzerland.

6.28pmThat early setback in Rostov-on-Don essentially meant that Brazil have been playing knockout football ever since. The Selecao required last-gasp goals from Coutinho and Neymar to shake off Costa Rica in their second group outing, before picking up a more straightforward 2-0 victory against Serbia to finish to of the pile, as they so often do. Their reward? This extremely tough run to the final.

6.30pmThat Mexico match was set up to be a real thriller, but in the end Brazil took control of proceedings and picked up victory through goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino at the start and end of the second half. Victory in scorching Samara means that the Selecao are competing in the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the seventh tournament running - that is quite some record.

6.32pmBrazil are now unbeaten in their last 15 matches - both competitive and non-competitive - conceding just three goals in that run. The Selecao may be renowned for their attacking flair, and they still have plenty of that thanks to the inclusion of Neymar and Coutinho, yet it is at the back where they have become particularly impressive with that clean sheet record. In many ways, they are the most balanced of the remaining sides.

6.34pmGoing further back, it is just one defeat in 25 matches for Brazil over the past two years. Tite has been in charge for each of those matches, 20 of which have ended in victory. Incredibly, 19 clean sheets have been kept in that run, with the man in charge able to get the best out of each of his superstar players, while at the same time keeping his side perfectly balanced.

6.36pmDID YOU KNOW? Brazil's last six World Cup defeats have all come at the hands of European opposition. The Selecao were knocked out by France in the quarter-finals in 2006 and at the same stage by the Netherlands four years later, while Germany were 7-1 victors in the semi-finals in the last instalment - nobody will ever forget that. Their last win against Euro opposition in the knockout rounds was against Germany in the 2002 final.

6.38pmNeymar, who has made more headlines for his playacting than goals, will have a big part to play if Brazil are to maintain their charge for a sixth World Cup crown. The world's most expensive player has been involved in 20 goals in his last 19 international outings, scoring 11 and assisting eight more. Fingers crossed he keeps the theatrics to a minimum tonight!

Brazil's Neymar during the game against Switzerland on June 17, 2018© Reuters

6.40pmBelgium's third-in-the-world ranking may surprise many, having failed to truly make an impact at their last two major tournaments while carrying the dreaded tag of 'golden generation'. The Red Devils were dumped out by Argentina in Brazil four years ago, before suffering a shock 3-1 loss to Wales at the same stage of Euro 2016. Falling at the same hurdle for the third time running would be seen as a huge disappointment.

6.42pmMartinez's men head into this game in confident mood, though, boasting a 23-match unbeaten run - the longest of any of the competing nations. Even accounting for the 1-0 win against England in the group stage, though, there is a real fear in the Belgian ranks that they have limited experience against heavyweights such as Brazil. Of such encounters under Martinez, they have drawn to Portugal and lost to his native Spain.

6.44pmThe manager's formation has often been called into question, too, with his decision to go with five at the back raising eyebrows. The guns were very much loaded earlier this week, then, as Belgium trailed Japan by two goals and were heading for a shock early exit. Credit must go to Martinez, though, because his substitutions worked perfectly and the Red Devils made it through.

6.46pmBelgium showed great character to become the first side since Portugal in 1966 to win a knockout game at the World Cup after trailing by two goals. Martinez now needs Hazard and Lukaku to step up to the plate, which they have managed to do in Russia with a combined six goals and two assists in six matches. Hazard has contributed to 19 goals in 18 games since Martinez took charge two years ago; Lukaku has four goals from five shots on target in Russia.

6.48pmThe Red Devils' last two World up campaigns have been ended by South American opposition - Brazil in 2002, Argentina in 2014 - and they have not reached the semi-finals since 1986 when crashing out to Argentina. in current scoring form, though, Belgium look good value to end that hoodoo as they have netted 12 times already in Russia - their joint-highest tally at the finals, alongside 1986.

6.50pmStrangely, though, Belgium have not scored a first-half goal in nine of their last 10 World Cup matches, while 12 knockout games without a clean sheet is a record. The Red Devils have still managed to win eight of their last nine matches in the finals, however, and their ongoing 23-game unbeaten run cannot be played down. Many still wonder whether Martinez is the right man for the job, but as long as his side win games then there can be few arguments.

6.52pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS! This is the fifth meeting between these two sides, stretching back to their first encounter in 1963 which Belgium won 5-1 in Brussels. Brazil have won the subsequent three games, though, including the only previous World Cup fixture in 2002 when Rivaldo and Ronaldo scored in the round of 16 en route to lifting the trophy.

6.54pmWith kickoff at the Kazan Arena now a little over five minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Tite: "I've already talked about Neymar and I've been very specific about what happened. You should look at the videos. All you have to do is look at the images. What makes me happy is to have him playing at his best. It's not just with the ball, it's not just dribbling. There are actions, there are transitions, defensive transitions and if you look, you see how much he has contributed."

Roberto Martinez: "The two sides are very similar in terms of qualities. The difference is we haven't won a World Cup - simple as that. There is something special in this squad, no doubt about it. The signs are positive and of a real desire to be on the football pitch. We can't wait. I feel we are as ready as we can be. Over the last two years we have been working towards this moment."

6.56pmThere has been plenty of talk regarding Neymar's on-pitch antics in the past few days, which he has very much brought upon himself. The Paris Saint-Germain forward's quality on the ball cannot be disputed, though, as his 11 goals and eight assists in 20 previous outings attests. Philippe Coutinho has also pulled the strings from a less-familiar central midfield position, having been used in the frontline throughout qualifying.

6.58pmRoberto Martinez, meanwhile, insists that there is very little between the sides in terms of quality. The only difference, he says, is that Brazil have far more proven pedigree, having lifted this famous trophy on five previous occasions. For a side of Belgium's stature, with no previous major tournament success, many are expecting this to be one hurdle too many. When accounting for the talents in their ranks, however, even defeat to Brazil will be considered a disappointment for those back home.

Brazil's Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring their first goal in the match against Switzerland on June 17, 2018© Reuters

1 minKICKOFF! We are under way in this second quarter-final of the 2018 World Cup. France have already booked their place in next week's semi, now it is over to Brazil and Belgium in what should be an entertaining contest in Kazan.

3 minA first sight of goal for the more advanced Kevin De Bruyne, who shakes off his man and drags the ball wide of Alisson's target. Plenty of intriguing battles across the field, including that tussle between clubmates Fernandinho and De Bruyne.

5 minSome quick passing from Brazil culminates in Neymar getting a cross in from the left, which Thibaut Courtois catches ahead of Philippe Coutinho. Both sides showing some attacking intent in the opening throes of this quarter-final tie.

7 minFellaini gets the man and none of the ball when up against Neymar, earning a telling off from the referee and numerous jeers from the stands. The Selecao are looking to keep their foot on the ball following an even start to the game.

9 minOFF THE POST! Thiago Silva comes within inches of giving Brazil an early lead in Kazan. The centre-back could not make proper contact on the ball from five yards, seeing it clip the post. Belgium get the ball forward quickly, but Hazard's close-range shot is blocked in front of goal.

11 minSilva was put off by Miranda, who got a little touch on the corner. If not for that, the PSG centre-back surely would have been burying the ball, just like we have seen him do already this tournament. A lively start to proceedings.

12 minBelgium are not looking all that comfortable at the back, desperately scrambling the ball away to concede a corner, from which it was again hearts in mouths. Martinez's men need to find their composure before their opponents capitalise.

13 minA swarm of yellow charging at Belgium's defenders at every opportunity in the opening 15 minutes. The closest either side have come to a breakthrough so far was via that Thiago Silva header that clipped the frame of the goal.


15 minBelgium open the scoring in Kazan thanks to a huge slice of fortune! Eden Hazard's corner from the left was swung towards the front post, where Fernandinho was one of three Brazil players tasked with heading it clear, only to get his contact all wrong and instead help it past Alisson.

17 minBrazil attack as they go in response of an instant equaliser, but Belgium again do just about enough to thwart their opponents. The Selecao now in a rare position of having to chase a goal, potentially opening them up at the back.

19 minSAVE! Brazil have done well since going a goal behind, and they have now got a shot on target to show for their efforts. Philippe Coutinho made some space after cutting inside, but his effort was all too easy for Thibaut Courtois to deal with down low.

21 minBelgium not exactly sitting back and looking to protect this slender lead - they know that the best form of defence is often to attack. Hazard carried the ball and feeds it through to Meunier, whose intended pass to Lukaku was cut out by Marcelo.

23 minThe sides have been very evenly matched on the whole, and that is reflected in the possession which is nearly 50-50. Belgium lead, though, thanks to a horror moment for Fernandinho who put the ball into his own net.

25 minTite will not panic just yet, but he will want to see his side create something before the interval - ideally creating something that leads to an equaliser. Coutinho has already cut inside and got a shot on target, which is usually their go-to attack.

27 minSAVE! Nearly a third of the match played and Belgium are the side who have a goal to protect. Brazil starting to knock on the door, though, with Marcelo getting down the left and cutting inside before testing Courtois down low.

29 minBrazil looking to probe down the left, where Marcelo and Coutinho are overloading. Neymar has just left the field and is currently receiving treatment to his calf, which is a real worry for the Selecao.

31 minNeymar is back on the field but is still not running freely. Vertonghen is dumped onto the turf, although the free kick had already been awarded for his shove on Willian. From the wide free kick, the ball drops to Fernandinho whose shot is blocked.


33 minThe first goal was fortunate... there was nothing of the sort on this occasion. Kevin De Bruyne, for some reason, was allowed to take five or six touches of the ball, before arrowing a shot right out of Alisson's reach from the edge of the box.

Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring the second during the World Cup quarter-final game between Brazil and Belgium on July 6, 2018© Reuters

35 minIt must be said, this has been a brilliant display from a balanced Belgium side. Brazil are now well and truly in trouble, requiring a couple of goals to force extra time and keep their hopes of a sixth World Cup crown alive.

37 minWhat a strike that was from De Bruyne, by the way, picking out the one place that Alisson was unable to reach. Romelu Lukaku also had a part to play by carrying the ball forward and picking out De Bruyne to do the rest. Up the other end, Jesus heads wide.

39 minSAVES! Marcelo with some more good work down Brazil's left, with his deflected shot being helped behind by Courtois. The corner is worked to Philippe Coutinho on the edge of the box, whose curler needed dealing with by the Belgium keeper.

41 minTruly brilliant from Eden Hazard, who takes the ball past one, then two and then a third Brazilian player. There were players over but the attack fizzled out, giving the South Americans a chance to recover. This has been a gripping first half.

43 minSAVE! Good refereeing, as play is brought back for Paulinho's barge on De Bruyne 25 yards from goal. Belgium have really turned it on over the past five minutes, and they fancy bagging themselves a third goal before the half-time interval, with De Bruyne's shot helped over the bar.

45 minSAVE! Vincent Kompany with a smart near-post flick that Alisson had to be alert to deal with. If anything, the Red Devils have looked the more like to score the game's third goal since Kevin De Bruyne's strike hit the back of the net.


7.48pmNeymar went to ground under contact from Thomas Meunier towards the end of the first half, but there was not enough contact for the referee to point to the spot. Belgium take a shock two-goal lead into the break, and not since 1938 have Brazil recovered from that deficit in the second half of a World Cup match.

7.51pmFernandinho was one two Brazil players brought into the starting lineup this evening, along with fit-again Marcelo, and it was the Manchester City midfielder who gifted the opposition a 13th-minute lead. Eden Hazard's left-sided corner dipped towards the front post and Fernandinho got a telling touch of the ball with his arm to help it past Alisson.

7.54pmThe game had been pretty evenly matched up until that point, although the Selecao had done more to warrant a lead as Thiago Silva hit the post from close range when picked out from a corner. Philippe Coutinho cut inside in trademark style to test Thibaut Courtois for the first time, before Marcelo did likewise as Brazil attempted to exploit their opponents down the left wing.

7.57pmBelgium, eliminated by South American opposition in their last two tournament participations, were holding their own, however, and they doubled their advantage with half an hour played. If the first goal had a slice of fortune about it, the second was pure skill as Kevin De Bruyne arrowed a 25-yarder out of Alisson's reach following some good build-up play from Romelu Lukaku.

8.00pmA smart near-post flick from Vincent Kompany had to be dealt with at the end of the first half, and De Bruyne came close to a second from a well saved free kick, with the Red Devils looks good value for their lead. Courtois was also being kept busy in a gripping game of football, though, getting across to push aside another Coutinho curler just moments after saving Marcelo's deflected cross.

BRAZIL SUBS: Ederson, Cassio, Geromel, Filipe Luis, D. Costa, Augusto, Marquinhos, Fred, Firmino, Taison

BELGIUM SUBS: Mignolet, Casteels, Vermaelen, Carrasco, Mertens, T. Hazard, Tielemans, Januzaj, Dembele, Boyata, Batshuayi, Dendoncker

An upset Neymar during the World Cup quarter-final game between Brazil and Belgium on July 6, 2018© Reuters

46 minRESTART! We are back under way at the Kazan Arena, where there is news of a substitution. Roberto Firmino, who many felt should have started the game, is on for Willian. Firmino will go through the middle and Gabriel Jesus out on the right.

48 minNeymar is still not moving freely, but there is no way Tite will take off his star man unless the pain become unbearable. Marouane Fellaini with a lovely little flick-on into the path of Eden Hazard, but the forward could not quite set himself for the shot.

50 minYELLOW CARD! Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld, who is not one of those walking a disciplinary tightrope, cuts across Paulinho and is shown the game's first yellow card. Plenty of red shirts back as Brazil look to create something.

52 minThe good news for the neutral is that there does appear to be another goal or two in this match. It would be good if Brazil can bag it, setting us up for a potential grandstand finish, and they so nearly got one as Marcelo's cross was inches out of Firmino's reach.

54 minPENALTY APPEAL! The referee almost laughs in Neymar's face at this attempt to win a penalty. Fair play to the official - Neymar tried to kick the leg of Marouane Fellaini, rather than the other way around. Great decision.

56 minPENALTY APPEAL! Courtois was unable to get his hands to the ball and Neymar left the goalkeeper exposed by hooking it into the middle. From the next attack, Gabriel Jesus went down under a tackle from clubmate Vincent Kompany. VAR is needed...

58 minNO PENALTY! A big let-off for Belgium, that, because Vincent Kompany did go to ground and he did get some of Gabriel Jesus. Brazil will now feel that everything is against them, so expect a big response from the Selecao.

60 minBRAZIL SUB! Douglas Costa, another of those who probably should have started today - does Willian really offer enough? - is on for Gabriel Jesus. Brazil have some momentum on their side but they cannot seem to score at the moment.

62 minSHOT! Belgium looked so threatening towards the end of the first half, but Brazil have had the better of this second half. That so nearly changed seconds ago, however, as a swift counter ended with Hazard shooting right across goal and wide.

64 minSAVE! This has been a great quarter-final. It is Brazil's turn to attack, with Douglas Costa's shot seemingly heading for the bottom corner if not for the intervention of Thibaut Courtois. The ball run loose to Paulinho, who could not control it.

66 minTite has already turned to his bench twice by bringing on Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa. Roberto Martinez still has a full selection of players to choose from, and it is surely just a matter of time before we see Dries Mertens to freshen things up.

68 minAxel Witsel catches the face of Fernandinho. The former also stayed down on the floor and an opposition player tapped the ball into his afro-covered head, which he was not at all happy with. There are now just 22 minutes for Brazil to find a couple of goals.

70 minBelgium having so many chances to counter now, with this latest breakaway ending when a heavy touch let the otherwise-brilliant Lukaku down. No goals for him tonight, and the same for Hazard, but they have both performed very well.

72 minYELLOW CARD! Thomas Meunier tracks back and fouls out Neymar - that is what you call taking one for the team. The wing-back, who is currently down with cramp, will now miss the semi-finals if Belgium can hold on.

74 minSAVE! Douglas Costa has looked bright since coming on, testing Courtois for the second time in 10 minutes. It was a tame effort, though, and the Belgium goalkeeper was always expected to keep it out from the central position.

76 minBRAZIL SUB! A third and final change for Brazil - unless it goes to extra time - as Renato Augusto, used regularly in qualifying, comes on for Paulinho in central midfield. Belgium still have all three subs available to make.


78 minAll of a sudden it is game on at the Kazan Arena! A fine ball over the top from Philippe Coutinho and an even better headed finish from Renato Augusto, who has got the better of Thibaut Courtois despite being on the field for just three minutes.

Renato Augusto pulls one back during the World Cup quarter-final game between Brazil and Belgium on July 6, 2018© Reuters

80 minRenato Augusto got between two Belgium defenders and glanced the ball into the bottom right of Thibaut Courtois's goal. Neymar breaks down the left as Brazil chase a second, with the ball breaking to Roberto Firmino - it is fired over the crossbar.

82 minCLOSE! Renato Augusto should have had a second. The Beijing Guoan midfielder had time to set himself, but his shot was guided wide of the target. Nacer Chadli goes to ground, giving Belgium a chance to regroup and receive some instructions.

84 minBELGIUM SUB! Nacer Chadli makes way but, rather than bringing on Yannick Carrasco, Roberto Martinez turns to Thomas Vermaelen for the final stages. Youri Tielemans' sub has been delayed, presumably because of an injury scare. A big chance for Coutinho goes begging, skewing his shot wide from 12 yards.

86 minYELLOW CARD! What a brilliant game this has been. Brazil have done enough to level things up, in truth, yet as things stand Belgium are just four minutes from the semi-finals. A cynical challenge from Fernandinho sees him become the latest player to earn a yellow card.

88 minBELGIUM SUB! Romelu Lukaku is replaced with two minutes left to play. Youri Tielemans is introduced, but that is a big risk from Roberto Martinez as this one could well go to extra time. Belgium need to see things through.

90 minYELLOW CARD! Fagner is booked for hauling down Eden Hazard, who has been superb tonight. VAR is needed once again as Thomas Meunier got a hand to Neymar inside the box when both men were leaping, but once again contact was minimal.

90+2 minWe are now midway through added time and Belgium are standing firm. Not quite sure how their fans are able to still watch because Brazil have been by far the better side in this second half, but they are now just a couple of minutes away from seeing the job through.

90+4 minSAVE! So, so close to the most dramatic of conclusions. The ball is worked to Philippe Coutinho and his trademark curler was hit as well as he would have liked, but Thibaut Courtois got a strong hand to it. Surely that is game over?!



9.03pmWhat a superb game of football that was, contested between two sides with talent aplenty throughout their ranks. It is Brazil, boasting the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and Alisson, who are heading home with more than a week of the tournament left to play, while Belgium now have a semi-final against France to look forward to in St Petersburg next Tuesday.

9.05pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from the Kazan Arena. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while a recap of France's 2-0 win over Uruguay from earlier today can be viewed here. Thanks for joining!

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Belgium manager Roberto Martinez on October 10, 2017
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