Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Cup 2014 : Belgium vs USA

The last of the round of 16 match between Belgium & USA was another humdinger, going the distance & into extra time.
Red Devils, Belgium, the pre tournament dark horses, got on with pressing football right from the start & exerted enough pressures on the US defense. But for a brilliant Howard under the US goal, Belgium would have gone up in the first minute itself. With De Bruyne, Mertens, Hazard & Origi, controlling the game midfield & inside US half, it was Belgium threatening to cut loose. However, US goalkeeper Howard was in a different zone today & he was simply monstrously unbreachable. Meanwhile, Dempsey, America's main hope for goal, along with Bradley, Bedoya & Zusi, tried to ruffle the Belgian defense, but Courtois under the bar was cool & composed, as were the defense of Toby, Buyten & Kompany. First half went goal less & Belgium started the second half with more gusto. Once again, they came very near to scoring, as Origi placed to De Bruyne inside the box, he in turn lobbed to Mertens with free space... a header was going in, but Howard again flipped the ball over the bar for a corner. The next few minutes were tense in the US box, as Howard kept on coming up with one save after another....he just kept becoming bigger & bigger under the bar & the Belgian attack just could not find a way to penetrate him. The game continued i the same vein as Belgium kept coming at the US goal, only to be thwarted by Howard..... at end of the regulation time, it was still goalless & USA & their coach Klinsmann could only thank Howard for his extraordinary efforts under the bar.
However, even Howard is human & he could only hold as much. As the match moved into extra time, Lukaku, having come in place of Origi a couple of minutes earlier, collected the ball midfield & raced into the US box beyond Besler from the right flank & a lovely centre to De Bruyne who dribbled in with speed & managed to slot the ball inside the net past Howard. 1-0. The US defense had finally been breached. Shortly again, running down the flank, Lukaku could have added one more goal, but Howard was again a wall in between. However, his continuous efforts payed off, as this time receiving from De Bruyne, Lukaku slammed past Howard 2-0 & it was celebration time for the Red Devils.
USA pulled one back, when Julian Greene, coming in place of Bedoya & making his first appearance in World Cup, received a perfect pass from Bradley & hit hard past Courtois 2-1. It was a consolation goal, for a well fought US team, but not enough, as the Belgians ended as winners.
More than 90 minutes could not separate the two teams & Howard was outstanding in the US goal, but finally De Bruyne breached the seemingly infallible US defense & then Lukaku added one more to make it a safe victory for Belgium.

They now face Argentina in the quarter finals. Its going to be a cracker of a match.