Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said his side “deserve to be heroes” back home after downing five-time champions Brazil on Friday to set up a World Cup semi-final clash against France.
The Red Devils tore Brazil apart on the counter-attack in the first half, before hanging on in the second to close out a famous 2-1 victory.
“They did incredible. There were amazing hearts out there. I didn’t think for one minute their hearts would give way,” said Martinez. “You have to accept that Brazil have so much quality and finesse, they break you down, but we did not accept it. Not for one minute were they (Belgium) going to give up. These boys deserve to be heroes in Belgium. The execution of the tactics was magnificent.”
“It is special and we can’t let the people of Belgium down. We can pass that down the generations – beating Brazil.”
Belgium will next face France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday as they look to reach the final for the first time in their history. The current team has been tagged the ‘golden generation’ in recent years, but had lost their last two major quarter-finals against Argentina four years ago and Wales at Euro 2016.
Martinez’s men put that to bed in style in Kazan, though, matching Belgium’s previous best World Cup run when they reached the last four in 1986. “I know it’s not easy to play against Brazil,” midfielder Kevin de Bruyne told the BBC.
“But we were magnificent first half and they changed tactics in the second half. We showed our character after they scored. We did very well with our running from deep, it is wonderful. We are here to try and win the World Cup and are very united.”
(With inputs from AFP)