Extra time goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku sent Belgium into the World Cup quarterfinals for first time in 28 years with a 2-1 win over the United States on Tuesday.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard had made a string of fine saves to keep Marc Wilmots’ men at bay during the 90 minutes in Salvador. Howard’s 16 saves throughout the match broke the record for most saves in a World Cup game.
However, he was beaten in extra time by De Bruyne’s angled drive after good work from substitute Lukaku and De Bruyne then returned the favour to allow Lukaku to slam past his Everton teammate Howard.
The Stars and Stripes got back in the game two minutes into the second half of extra time when substitute Julian Green volleyed home. Only a fine save from Thibaut Courtois prevented Clint Dempsey from taking the game to penalties moments later.
But Belgium held on to set up a rematch of their 1986 semifinal defeat to Argentina in Brasilia on Saturday.
Lille’s 19-year-old striker Divock Origi had been brought into the side at Lukaku’s expense after impressing as a substitute in all three of Belgium’s Group H wins and he was denied within the opening minute by Howard’s outstretched leg after racing onto Kevin de Bruyne’s through ball.
Belgium’s pace on the counterattack was a constant threat throughout the match.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men were then dealt a blow as one of their standout performers in the group stages, Fabian Johnson, limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by DeAndre Yedlin.
However, Yedlin nearly made an instant impact as he burst forward on the right and pulled the ball back for the unmarked Graham Zusi who shanked his shot horribly off target.
Howard’s best stop was to come though as he again used his legs to prevent club teammate Mirallas from slotting home 14 minutes from time.
The Everton keeper continued his one man resistance by parrying another low effort from Eden Hazard and then turning over a blast from Origi.
Unbelievably the States then passed up a huge chance to win the game in stoppage time when Chris Wondolowski blazed over from Jermaine Jones’ knockdown.
The U.S. were given a lifeline two minutes into the second period as Green turned home Michael Bradley’s chipped pass.
And they twice came desperately close to taking the game to penalties as Jones fired inches wide before Courtois smothered a shot from Dempsey to book Belgium’s place in the last eight.