Kevin De Bruyne fired in a rocket of a goal to give Belgium a 2-0 lead in their match against Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinal on Friday. The goal came after a brilliant midfield run and pass from Romelu Lukaku, and left giants Brazil standing around stunned, wondering what had happened.
Let’s watch the goal, and then break down exactly what did happen here:
1. Romelu Lukaku broke down Brazil
Brazil have a strong defensive back four, and despite missing Casemiro, two strong midfielders who can defend in Fernandinho and Paulinho. When Romelu Lukaku checked back to get the ball and turned to dribble, Brazil wouldn’t have felt great with the counter-attack coming at them, but they would have felt OK knowing there were still a bunch of midfielders between Lukaku and the goal.
Then Lukaku dribbled all of them.
One juke ends Fernandinho, then then Lukaku is quick enough and strong enough to hold off Paulinho. That was the beginning of the end for Brazil. They had numbers back, until Lukaku erased that advantage.
2. Then Lukaku made the harder-than-it-looked pass
The pass to De Bruyne from Lukaku looks simple enough, but Lukaku has to make it with Paulinho draped all over him and sliding at his feet. He could have sent the ball flying, or behind De Bruyne, or into the feet of a Brazilian defender. He recognized the pressure, saw the pass, and hit De Bruyne in stride.
3. Kevin De Bruyne looked off the defenders
I love what De Bruyne does when he gets the ball. He takes his touches, committing forward, but he’s keeping his head up and his eyes open. It doesn’t matter that Eden Hazard isn’t anywhere near the play or Lukaku is currently on the ground — De Bruyne is signaling to the defenders that he’s looking for the pass. He’s just got Meunier on an overlap, but De Bruyne is such a good passer, Brazil defenders have to respect that. Right up until he hits it, you can see them giving him a bit of space, looking to close down possible passing angles.
Which gives him that yard he needs.
4. Then De Bruyne hit it pure
From there, it’s just a matter of him putting his laces through the ball into the side netting in about a yard window past one of the best goalies in the world. For anyone else, that’s a career-defining strike. For De Bruyne, it’s business as usual.
That’s how Belgium can break you down. That’s how they lead by two.