Belgium vs United States match report World Cup 2014: Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku overcome Tim Howard in extra-time thriller

Belgium 2 United States 1

Arena Fonte Nova

A World Cup quarter-final against Argentina awaits Belgium as their much-vaunted golden generation eventually broke the resistance of a spirited USA side after a thrilling contest in Salvador.

Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku got the extra-time goals that finally undid an astounding night’s work by Tim Howard, a giant in goal for the Americans.

After all the talk about Belgium’s failure to take flight as an attacking force, they gathered real momentum in the second half although they had to wait for their reward. Three minutes into extra time substitute Lukaku brushed aside Matt Besler out on the right touchline and bore down on the American penalty box to set up De Bruyne who arrowed a low shot across Howard and inside the far post.

De Bruyne then returned the compliment for Lukaku to crash a rising shot inside Howard’s near post in the 105 minute and earn Belgium a first quarter-final appearance since Mexico 86.

Even then the drama was not over as Julian Green pulled a goal back and Thibaut Courtois saved at the feet of Clint Dempsey after a brilliantly worked free-kick put him clear. It was an incredible finish and Belgium, on this showing, should give Argentina a real game in their quarter-final on Saturday.

The question before kick-off was whether Belgium could deliver the big performance the world has been waiting for from this talented group of footballers. In its preview of the game, A Tarde, the Salvador newspaper, spoke of the quality of Belgium’s chocolates, waffles and chips, yet despite their efficiency in winning all three group games, the quality of their attacking players had yet to shine through. Here in Salvador, scene of some real goalfests already, it did.

Coach Marc Wilmots had shuffled his pack and gave teenager Divok Origi a start up front in place of Lukaku and the 19-year-old did well on only his second start. Indeed he might have had a goal inside 40 seconds when released by Kevin De Bruyne’s forward pass. The Lille teenager shrugged off a defender but Howard foiled his low strike with the first of many fine stops. 


All of Belgium’s group stage goals had come after the 70 minute and they would continue that trend here against a USA team given extra defensive security by the presence of Stoke full-back Geoff Cameron in central midfield. For the first half at least this was as tight and competitive as we have come to expect from matches involving an American team who survived the group of death on the back of their impressive organisation, athleticism and a blue-collar work ethic.

They also had plenty of support inside the Arena Fonte Nova. When the US last played at a World Cup in Brazil, just one reporter followed the team to South America, the wonderfully named Dent McSkimming of the St Louis Post-Dispatch. This time round, Americans have succumbed to soccer fever and they might have had a goal to celebrate after 20 minutes when Michael Bradley and Dempsey worked a shooting chance for the latter but his snapshot inside the box went straight at Courtois.

That was actually the cue for a decent spell from Belgium which might have brought a goal when Tottenham full-back Jan Vertonghen got forward to tee up De Bruyne but he stepped inside and mishit his shot which trickled wide. At this stage, USA were holding their own and even when they lost right-back Fabian Johnson to a hamstring injury before half-time, his  replacement DeAndre Yedlin soon took advantage of Eden Hazard’s failure to track back, pushing forward to set up Graham Zusi only for the midfielder to miss his kick inside the Belgium box.

It was the USA goal that led a charmed life after the restart. Mertens went close twice, notably when Howard clawed his header away from beneath the crossbar. De Bruyne and Origi both failed to get a touch on Vertonghen’s superb low ball across goal. Next Origi flashed a header against the crossbar as the pressure built.

The Belgians were exploiting space on both flanks and Vertonghen, dashing up the left, was at the heart of their good work but it remained unrewarded.

On the hour Wilmots replaced Mertens with Kevin Mirallas and the red tide kept rolling. Mirallas’ lovely weaving run gave Origi a sight of goal but Howard saved. Howard then foiled his Everton colleague Mirallas with an even better save with his feet after the excellent Origi had played him through at the 76 minute. While Courtois at the other end had only the odd long shot to worry him, Howard was performing wonders to keep Belgium out and it was hard to keep count of the saves although Origi will remember the tipover the 35-year-old produced from his fierce 20-yard drive. On this evidence Liverpool, Origi’s reported future employers, look to have some player on their hands.

With Chelsea winger Hazard finally coming into the game the pressure was unrelenting, as underlined when Kompany got on the end of a De Bruyne cross and steered the ball goalwards only for Howard to save once more. The drama was intense and it was only just beginning.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little