Belgium set up Italy clash
© AFP

Belgium cruised through to a Beijing date with Italy after booking their place in the last eight with a 1-0 win over New Zealand.

The Red Devils went into this evening's Shanghai showdown knowing that their fate was firmly in their own hands; win, and they would advance even if China succeeded in springing a surprise against Brazil.

This created a sense of purpose that was clearly evident in the Belgians' play from the first whistle, with Jan Vertonghen striking the post with an early effort and Kevin Miralles testing the goalkeeper from the rebound.

With New Zealand seemingly content to defend in numbers, there was no great surprise when Belgium's superior attacking adventure gained its reward 10 minutes before the break, Faris Haroun bulleting home a tantalising Tom de Mul corner to put his side firmly in the driving seat.

The Europeans' task became all the more straightforward when New Zealand went down to ten men shortly after the restart, Daniel Ellensohn receiving his marching orders at the same time Brazil were establishing an unassailable lead in Qinhuangdao.

The only mystery, in fact, was how the Belgians failed to add to their advantage, with a succession of clear-cut chances left to go a-begging as the second half wore on.

De Mul was the first to be guilty of a glaring miss, firing over with the goal gaping, while Miralles might have had a hat-trick, hitting the crossbar with the best of his three efforts.

New Zealand's only real chance, meanwhile, fell to Chris Killen, but while the Celtic striker looked to have done enough with a decent left-foot effort, Logan Bailly advanced from his goal to make a fine block with his legs.

The Kiwis now head for home, while Belgium march on to Beijing for a quarter-final showdown with the unbeaten Italians.