Belgium broke USA's hearts in extra-time thanks to goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, but the Red Devils were made to fight until the last drop of sweat to earn their 2-1 victory which took them into the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
USA put in an excellent performance and matched their opponents for much of the game, with Tim Howard making a record 15 saves in a World Cup game, but in the end they could not keep up with the Belgians, who scored twice in the first half of extra-time to seal their progress.
Belgium almost got the lead in the first minute through Divock Origi's effort, but Howard produced a fine save to keep it out - something that would become a theme through much of the game. Fabian Johnson was then withdrawn for DeAndre Yedlin due to injury early in the first half, which would prove to be to the USA's advantage as the young right-back went on to have a superb game.
Although USA had chances themselves and were hardly penned into their own half throughout the game, they were reliant on Howard who put in a superhuman performance to keep Belgium out. The second half was an end-to-end display with Howard keeping Belgium at bay while the USA went close with a number of chances, somehow remaining 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes.
USA suffered an early blow in extra-time as the introduction of Lukaku caused chaos - the Chelsea forward immediately created a goal as his strength won him the ball and his cut-back to De Bruyne saw the midfielder turn and fire beyond Howard to make it 1-0. USA appeared to be out of it afterwards as Lukaku broke on the counter-attack and smashed the ball beyond Howard to make it 2-0 just before half-time in extra time.
Yet there was to be another huge twist as Julian Green was introduced for USA and the young forward immediately got on the scoresheet, finishing brilliantly from a long pass to put it beyond Courtois. The tables were turned as the second half of extra-time was a complete siege as USA hurled everything at the Belgian goal, but they couldn't find a way through and had to bow out as yet another brave underdog to exit this World Cup.
1' - ORIGI MISS: Divock Origi almost puts Belgium ahead in the first minute as he breaks clear but Tim Howard saves.
24' - DE BRUYNE MISS: Kevin de Bruyne should score but rolls it wide after a Belgium counter-attack puts him clean through.
72' - HOWARD HEROICS: Howard produces a great save from Origi and then again from De Bruyne as the USA come under serious pressure.
93' - DE BRUYNE GOAL: De Bruyne strikes a massive blow to the US as the substitute Lukaku uses his strength to win the ball and cut it back for the midfielder to fire home.
114' - LUKAKU GOAL: The USA look finished as Lukaku springs on the counter-attack to smash the ball past Howard and surely send Belgium through.
116' - GREEN GOAL: The USA youngster has an amazing moment as he clips a volley beyond Thibaut Courtois to set up a tense finale.
121' - COURTOIS SAVE: A great free-kick from the US puts Dempsey through but Courtois flies out of goal to deny him at close range.
Belgium have failed to score before half-time in their last five World Cup games.
Tim Howard ended the game with 15 saves, more than any other player in a World Cup game between 1966 and 2014.
The USA’s Justin Green scored with his first ever touch in World Cup football.
Kevin de Bruyne created 10 chances vs USA, the most by a player in a World Cup match since 1982 (Gordon Strachan for Scotland vs New Zealand).
Four of Belgium's six goals at the 2014 World Cup have been scored by substitutes. The last nine Belgian goals at World Cups have all been scored by different players.
Belgium’s opening goal came with their 32nd shot.
Belgium’s final total of 39 shots is the fourth highest total in a World Cup game (1966-2014).
15 of the last 16 group winners (World Cup 2010 & 2014 combined have reached the quarter-finals).
This is the first time all eight group winners have progressed from the Last 16 round in the current World Cup format.
USA had more than 50% possession in a World Cup game for the first time since playing Algeria in 2010.
Belgium have had 83 shots at this tournament (inc blocks), more than any other side.
Are Belgium getting enough from their stars? Belgium won this game, but they did so by the narrowest of margins, and were made to fight to the last by an incredible USA performance. It's a nice story, but the quality in the Belgian ranks should easily be enough to beat the USA, so there may be a need to tinker the squad ahead of more difficult opposition. Romelu Lukaku was excellent after coming on, but is he the right choice to start?
MAN OF THE MATCH Tim Howard (USA): Lukaku was the matchwinner, and DeAndre Yedlin gave a truly titanic performance at right-back, but it was Howard who was the standout performer. USA matched Belgium for the game but the Europeans' shooting was far more accurate and Howard was constantly called into action to keep his side in the game. It might be his last performance in a USA shirt. He went out in a true blaze of glory if so.
USA: Howard 9, Cameron 7, Gonzalez 6, Besler 6, Beasley 6, Zusi 6, Jones 6, Johnson 6, Bedoya 4, Dempsey 6, Bradley 7. Subs: Yedlin 9, Wondolowski 6, Green 7.
Belgium: Courtois 7, Alderweireld 7, Van Buyten 7, Kompany 7, Vertonghen 7, Witsel 6, Fellaini 6, Hazard 6, De Bruyne 6, Mertens 4, Origi 7. Subs: Lukaku 8, Mirallas 7, Chadli 6.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Tim Howard
- Romelu Lukaku
- Kevin de Bruyne