Brazil struggled for an hour to impose their authority over Belgium before goals by Rivaldo and Ronaldo sent the World Cup favourites into the quarter-finals.
Brazil, eventual 2-0 winners, will meet England in a repeat of the celebrated 1970 World Cup encounter while the United States, who defeated Mexico by an identical scoreline, play Germany.
"The Cup starts now," said a beaming Ronaldo, whose fifth goal of the tournament puts him equal top with Germany's Miroslav Klose.
"Every match is going to be a final. Now we must think about England."
Rivaldo, who struck the spectacular opening goal in the 67th minute, has scored four while the Brazilian team have accumulated 11 from four matches.
After romping through the first round, Brazil laboured against their first European opposition in the form of a disciplined, tenacious Belgium side.
Only a controversial refereeing decision and a series of courageous stops from goalkeeper Marcos saved the four times World champions in the first half of the second round match played in the Japanese city of Kobe.
In the 36th minute, Marc Wilmots, who scored in each of Belgium's three first round matches, soared above Roque Junior to head an inswinging cross from Jacky Peeters into the net.
To the disbelief of the Belgium team, Jamaican referee Peter Prendergast disallowed the goal, apparently for pushing.
"We all thought the goal was valid, that (decision) changed the course of the match," said Belgium coach Robert Waseige. "But that's football. I think this Brazilian defence can be beaten."
Ronaldo, whose hunger for goals is palpable after four injury-disrupted years since the last World Cup, had three good chances but could not break the deadlock.
Finally, Rivaldo unlocked the Belgium defence when he controlled a high pass from Ronaldinho on his chest with his back to the goal, brought the ball under control with his next touch before swivelling to crash it into the net.
Twenty minutes later, Ronaldo finally got on the scoresheet with a left-foot strike which put the result beyond doubt.
"We knew about the way Belgium would play with the high balls but we prepared for this and we were able to cope," said Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.