Late goals from Chelsea FC striker Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne ensured Belgium’s qualification into the quarter-finals as USA were left heart broken.
There has already been a lot of heart-breaks in the round of 16 where underdogs and unfancied teams have played their heart out and yet have been knocked out at the last moment. Last night saw a similar outcome as Belgium defeated USA to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986.
Belgium dominated the match from the start and created numerous chances in both first and second halves of the match. But Tim Howard produced one of the best performances of this World Cup so far as he made a record 16 saves to protect his clean sheet for 90 minutes of normal time. The Everton custodian pulled out one world class save after another as USA kept plugging away and eventually took the match to extra-time.
Romelu Lukaku, who replaced youngster Divock Origi, made an instant impact after coming as a substitute ad created Belgium’s opening goal in extra-time as he shrugged off a defender and created an opening for De Bruyne to finish. Few minutes later, the Chelsea striker scored, what ended up being the winner, after De Bruyne returned the favour with a lovely through ball.
The match looked over at that point by 19-year-old youngster, Julian Green, provided the Yanks with hopes of a comeback as he scored with a delightful volley. Michael Bradley picked him out with a lovely ball over the top and Green finished in style. USA gained a lot of confidence after that goal and put immense pressure on the Belgium defence in the last 10 minutes of the match, but eventually they failed to find the equalizer and were knocked out.
Marc Wilmots praised his team for their persistence and also congratulated USA and Tim Howard for their wonderful display on the night.
“Tonight we’ve seen a forward-thinking Belgium team. We had 27 shots on goal, the first came after the second minute and we didn’t stop attacking for the remaining 118 minutes. I want to congratulate Jurgen Klinsmann and the USA team, especially Tim Howard who had a fantastic game and I think we deserved to win. We played football, we were brave and we pushed ourselves to the limits. Sometimes in games like that when you have so many chances and you are denied, the result doesn’t go your way but we didn’t stop believing. Now we have four days to prepare for the Argentina game, which isn’t long. We’re not favourites but we want to win.” – The Belgium manager said after the match.