Belgium reached their first FIFA U-17 World Cup semi-final after a thrilling 1-0 victory against Costa Rica in Concepcion. Dante Rigo's stunning first half free-kick saw off the Central Americans, and set up a last four clash with Mali in La Serena on Thursday.
The European side were first on the attack. A corner whipped in from the Belgian left saw Daniel Villegas attempt to clear but the defender could only deflect onto the crossbar. Bob Broeways' side then went close once more, with a long ball from the Belgian right finding Jorn Vancamp in behind the Costa Rican defence. Alejandro Barrientos thought about coming to claim, but retreated and the goalkeeper was lucky that Villegas was there to save his blushes by stopping the ball from crossing the line.
Costa Rica responded in kind, forcing Jens Teunckens into a stunning double save. Ian Smith overlapped down the Costa Rican right and crossed to find his captain Luis Hernandez arriving at the back post. His volleyed effort was stopped by Teunckens, who also saved the No6's follow up. Martinez then hit a follow up of his own which was blocked by Wout Faes and collected by Teunckens.
The Red Devils then went ahead thanks to a moment of technical excellence from Rigo. Steve Ryckaert stepped over the ball and the No8 curled an unstoppable set-piece past the despairing Barrientos.
Belgium then took control of the remainder of the opening period, despite Costa Rica looking dangerous on the counter attack.
After the break, Broeways introduced Dante Vanzeir, who had an immediate impact. He received a fantastic throw by Teunckens after the goalkeeper collected a Costa Rica corner and outpaced the Ticos defence, sprinting more than half the length of the pitch to find himself in the penalty area. With team-mates waiting in the middle, his cross was cleared behind for a corner.
Costa Rica went closest to levelling late on. A long ball was deflected into the box and Teunckens could only palm the looping ball onto the post which deflected back into the penalty area. Pablo Arboine fired wide with the goal gaping. Teunckens then showed remarkable reflexes to claw out a deflected Arboine free-kick.
Belgium meet Mali in the semi-final, with both sides renewing their rivalry from Group D and each hoping to continue writing new chapters of footballing history with an inaugural U-17 World Cup final berth the prize on offer.