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.
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.
However, the South Americans became the latest heavyweight to depart the competition after holders Germany and other past winners Argentina, Spain and Uruguay.
Impressive Belgium will now face France, 2-0 winners over Uruguay earlier on Friday, in a semi-final in St Petersburg next Tuesday, 10 July (19:00 BST).
The other semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday 11 July will be contested between the winners of Saturday’s quarter-finals featuring Sweden and England (15:00 BST) and Russia and Croatia (19:00 BST).
Golden generation finally comes of age
There were scenes of jubilation where Belgium’s fans were gathered after the match at the Kazan Arena.
Chadli posed for selfies and handed his shirt to a fan as Martinez’s team stayed out on the pitch to soak up the atmosphere long after the final whistle.
There is a steely determination about this Belgium side that they did not have four years ago when they narrowly lost a quarter-final to Argentina.
Eight of the starting 11 against Brazil also started that game in Brasilia in 2014 but this time there was no hard luck story as the Red Devils ruthlessly dispatched the most successful country in World Cup history.
Energy and belief is coursing through a Belgium team packed with Premier League winners, and many are starting to seriously ask whether this squad full of thirtysomethings is finally about to deliver.
If there was a touch of fortune about the first goal as the ball rolled off Fernandinho’s arm and into the net, the second was beautifully crafted.
Lukaku has scored four times at this tournament but his run which led to De Bruyne making it 2-0 was a sight to behold, the striker receiving the ball inside his own half before turning and embarking on a superb run.
On a glorious night in Belgium football history, there was one negative as defender Thomas Meunier picked up another booking and will be suspended against France.
From Everton sack to World Cup semi-final
In May 2016, Martinez was out of a job after being sacked by Everton. A banner saying “Time to go Roberto” was flown over Goodison just days before his dismissal.
Now the Spaniard is one win away from steering Belgium to a first ever World Cup final.
In the last 16, Martinez made two key changes as his side came from 2-0 down against Japan to win 3-2 – substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Chadli scoring the second and third goals.
He promoted Fellaini and Chadli to the starting line-up against Brazil and both played their part in what will go down as a famous Belgium win as Martinez successfully changed his system, going narrower to deny Neymar and Philippe Coutinho space.
Belgium are unbeaten in 24 games under the 44-year-old since he lost his first game in charge against Spain in September 2016.
Tears as Brazil bow out
Thousands of Brazil fans had packed the Kazan Arena hoping to see their team take a huge step towards a first World Cup triumph since 2002.
By the end, some of their followers were in tears.
Brazil had arrived at the tournament full of optimism after Neymar was declared fit after recovering from a broken foot. They depart Russia unfulfilled, and with Neymar’s theatrics one of the talking points of the tournament.
When Neymar went down inside the Belgium penalty area in the second half of this game, he was told in no uncertain terms by referee Milorad Mazic to get back on his feet.
Brazil, who had an incredible 27 shots, might have enjoyed a different outcome but for an astonishing display by Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgium goalkeeper produced a string of excellent saves to frustrate the South Americans particularly towards the end as Brazil pressed for an equaliser.
His finger-tip stop to keep out Neymar in the third minute of stoppage time was magnificent.
Brazil are a much changed team since their embarrassing 7-1 semi-final exit to Germany four years ago. Nevertheless, this was another painful exit.
Man of the match – Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Match ends, Brazil 1, Belgium 2.
Second Half ends, Brazil 1, Belgium 2.
Roberto Firmino (Brazil) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Belgium).
Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Miranda.
Attempt missed. Roberto Firmino (Brazil) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Neymar with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Thibaut Courtois.
Attempt saved. Neymar (Brazil) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Douglas Costa.
Hand ball by Eden Hazard (Belgium).
Foul by Miranda (Brazil).
Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Coutinho (Brazil) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcelo.
Fagner (Brazil) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Fagner (Brazil).
Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Belgium. Youri Tielemans replaces Romelu Lukaku.
Foul by Miranda (Brazil).
Marouane Fellaini (Belgium) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Roberto Firmino (Brazil).
Axel Witsel (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Fernandinho (Brazil) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Fernandinho (Brazil).
Eden Hazard (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Coutinho (Brazil) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Neymar.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Belgium. Thomas Vermaelen replaces Nacer Chadli because of an injury.
Delay in match Nacer Chadli (Belgium) because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Renato Augusto (Brazil) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Coutinho.
Corner, Brazil. Conceded by Nacer Chadli.
Attempt missed. Roberto Firmino (Brazil) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Neymar.
Goal! Brazil 1, Belgium 2. Renato Augusto (Brazil) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Coutinho with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Neymar (Brazil) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Douglas Costa (Brazil) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Roberto Firmino.
Coutinho (Brazil) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Romelu Lukaku (Belgium).
Substitution, Brazil. Renato Augusto replaces Paulinho.
Attempt saved. Douglas Costa (Brazil) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fernandinho.
Thomas Meunier (Belgium) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Neymar (Brazil) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Thomas Meunier (Belgium).
World Cup 2018: Belgium produce masterclass to knock out Brazil with 2-1 win