France are into the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 2006 after seeing off Uruguay with the help of a terrible error by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. In terms of excitement, this quarter-final tie did not come close to Les Bleus’ win over Argentina in the last 16 but will still be remembered for the contrasting fates of the two goalkeepers, with Hugo Lloris producing a contender for save of the tournament while his opposite number made a mistake that was even more memorable. Raphael Varane headed France into a first-half lead from a free-kick that came straight off the training field, with Antoine Griezmann checking his run before delivering the perfect cross for the Real Madrid defender to glance home.
Belgium produced a brilliant performance to knock five-time winners Brazil out of the World Cup and reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1986. Roberto Martinez’s side turned on the style in Kazan to clock up their fifth straight win of the tournament and ensure the semi-finals will be contested by four European sides for the first time since 2006. Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russia but were behind early when Nacer Chadli’s corner struck Fernandinho’s arm and flew into the net, the 10th own goal of this World Cup. Fernandinho’s Manchester City team-mate Kevin de Bruyne doubled Belgium’s lead with a sublime arrowed finish from 20 yards after Romelu Lukaku’s powerful run. In an entertaining and open game, Brazil hit the post when the match was goalless – Thiago Silva missing in front of a gaping net after Neymar’s corner – before substitute Renato Augusto gave Brazil hope with a headed goal after Philippe Coutinho’s delicious pass.
England reached the World Cup semi-final for the first time since Italia 90 as Harry Maguire and Dele Alli struck either side of the interval to beat Sweden in Samara. Gareth Southgate’s side will now face Croatia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday after overcoming a stubborn Sweden challenge in this quarter-final, with help from a magnificent display by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Maguire, outstanding once more, broke the deadlock on the half-hour when another England set-piece bore fruit – Leicester City’s powerful defender flashing a header past Sweden keeper Robin Olsen from Ashley Young’s corner. Everton keeper Pickford then snuffed out Sweden’s hopes of recovery with a superb save from Marcus Berg, before England sealed their victory after 58 minutes when Alli headed in Jesse Lingard’s cross at the far post.
Russia’s remarkable World Cup run ended in a heart-breaking quarter-final defeat on penalties as Croatia bounced back from a late extra-time equaliser to set up a last-four meeting with England. Defender Mario Fernandes, who had brought his side level through a header in the 115th minute, missed what proved to be the decisive spot-kick, with Barcelona loans in midfielder Ivan Rakitic making no mistake to send his team into the semi-finals. Immediately after his penalty went in Rakitic was mobbed by his team-mates – in repeat scenes of Croatia’s last-16 shootout victory over Denmark. Brazil-born defender Fernandes’ miss – blazed low and wide of the post – was the second of two failed Russian spot-kicks. Fedor Smolov missed the first with a weak Panenka effort that was easily stopped by Danijel Subasic, while opposite number Igor Akinfeev stopped one – a fabulous low save from Mateo Kovacic.