Belgium will face Argentina in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup after they defeated USA 2–1 in a thrilling extra time clash at Arena Fonte Nova.
Goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in the first half of extra time were enough for la Roja and despite Julian Green’s 107th minute strike; Belgium progressed to the final eight for the first time in 28 years
Belgium almost took the lead within the opening minute as De Bruyne played Liverpool target Divock Origi through on goal but his low shot was denied by Tim Howard, an indication as to how the game would play out.
USA were guilty of overplaying in midfield as Graham Zusi was caught in possession by Vertonghen and the Tottenham man picked out De Bruyne on the left who cut in on his weaker foot but he dragged his shot well wide.
Vertonghen was causing the States defence all kinds of problems and he got beyond the backline again but his cross was cleared by the recovering Beasley at the back post with Fellaini waiting unmarked.
The USA had their first attempt on goal shortly after the half hour as Clint Dempsey controlled the ball expertly on his chest before teeing up Jermaine Jones but the midfielder was unable to recreate his stunning strike from the Portugal game as his shot failed to hit the target.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side were enforced into an early change as Fabien Johnson was replaced by DeAndre Yedlin and the substitute nearly created the opener as his cross was fluffed by Zusi on the half-volley from 12 yards.
Belgium continued to carry a strong goal threat on the counter attack with Origi outpacing Jones on the halfway line and he carried the ball forward to the edge of the box before picking out De Bruyne but the midfielder’s first time hit was well held by Howard.
The Everton keeper was busy again straight after the interval as he tipped Dries Mertens’ looping header over the bar and they came even closer ten minutes later as Origi struck the crossbar with another header from Mertens’ cross.
The same two combined again as Belgium were putting the States under intense pressure; Origi evaded Omar Gonzalez on the left wing and his ball across the box was met by Mertens but his flick bounced beyond the near post.
Howard denied Belgium once for an umpteenth time as Kevin Mirallas broke the offside trap from Origi’s through ball but his low effort was blocked by the feet of the American stopper.
Eden Hazard squandered a further chance late on and in the final minute of the game De Bruyne picked out the unmarked Kompany, who had ran the entire length of the pitch, but the captain’s mishit effort was again pushed behind by the invincible Howard, leaving the game destined for extra time.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots brought on Lukaku at half time and the substitution paid immediate dividends as Lukaku outmuscled Matt Besler before crossing for De Bruyne and the Wolfsburg man composed himself before firing past Howard at the far post.
It was a case of role reversal for the second ten minutes later as De Bruyne isolated Geoff Cameron before releasing Lukaku who fired into the roof of the net to seemingly put the game beyond America.
Klinsmann’s side hadn’t read the script though as two minutes following the break, Michael Bradley played a delightful lofted pass for the run of World Cup debutant Julian Green who volleyed past Thibaut Courtois to set up an exhilarating end to the game.
Jones nearly drew USA level from the next attack but his strike from Chris Wondolowski’s knock down sailed wide. They came even closer with seven minutes left to play as a brilliant free kick routine involving Bradley and Wondolowski found Dempsey in the box but his effort was smothered by the busy Courtois.
USA sent both centre backs forward in a desperate attempt to take the game to penalties but they fell just short to bring an end to an exhilarating 120 minutes of football.
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany, Daniel Van Buyten, Jan Vertonghen; Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witsel; Eden Hazard (Nacer Chadli 111), Kevin De Bruyne, Dries Mertens (Kevin Mirallas 60); Divock Origi (Romelu Lukaku 91).
Booked: Kompany (42)
USA: Tim Howard; Fabien Johnson (DeAndre Yedlin 32), Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Demarcus Beasley; Graham Zusi (Chris Wondolowski 72), Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya (Julian Green 106); Clint Dempsey.
Booked: Cameron (18)
Referee: Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)
Extratime Man of the Match: Tim Howard (USA)