• Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WORLD CUP ROUND OF 16: BEL VS USA

Belgians win 2-1 despite valiant US efforts

Kevin De Bruyne, one of a host of Belgium players to find USA goalkeeper Tim Howard in inspired form, smashed into the bottom corner in the third minute of the first additional period after the 90 minutes somehow ended goalless at Salvador's Arena Fonte Nova, reports Goal.com.

Romelu Lukaku, dropped to the bench having failed to fire so far in the competition, then gave Belgium breathing space with an emphatic 105th-minute second.

Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (R) and US forward and captain Clint Dempsey vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Source: Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (R) and US forward and captain Clint Dempsey vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

But there was further drama as a resilient USA team hit back through substitute Julian Green and Jermaine Jones poked agonisingly wide, with Clint Dempsey also denied late on, before Belgium sealed the prize of a last-eight meeting against Argentina in Brasilia, despite the stunning efforts of the brilliant Howard.

Captain Vincent Kompany returned from groin and abdominal complaints to bolster Belgium's defence, while Divock Origi was favoured to Lukaku in attack.

The 19-year-old almost enjoyed a dream start, stealing in behind the defence to draw a fine save from Howard on the angle inside the first minute.

But United States quickly settled into the contest and Michael Bradley combined with Dempsey for a 20th-minute opening, although the latter's shot lacked the power to trouble Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Jan Vertonghen caught USA midfielder Graham Zusi in possession on the halfway line and stormed forward to give De Bruyne a glorious opportunity in the 23rd minute, but Belgium's top scorer in qualifying dragged wastefully past the near post.

Vertonghen was proving a potent attacking threat from full-back and he forced DaMarcus Beasley into a vital goalmouth clearance, with Marouane Fellaini poised to convert.Influential USA right-back Fabian Johnson departed with a hamstring injury after the half hour, although the pacey runs of replacement DeAndre Yedlin provided a useful counter-point to Belgium's razor-sharp threat on the break.

Howard was forced into an acrobatic stop to touch Dries Mertens' looping header behind two minutes into the second period, and Belgium settled into the groove of calm, assured possession football they were denied during the opening half.

De Bruyne and Origi somehow both failed to convert Vertonghen's brilliant 54th-minute cross and the young striker flicked a header onto the crossbar two minutes later.

Vertonghen called Howard into action once more before Zusi caused panic on an increasingly rare USA attack, although they returned to the back foot as Mertens prodded past the near post - his last act as Kevin Mirallas was introduced.

The attacker displayed clever footwork to set up Origi, but Mirallas' Everton club-mate Howard was again equal to the task after 72 minutes.

Roles were reversed when Origi sent Mirallas clear with a cute through-ball, only for Howard's excellence to come to the fore again as he saved brilliantly with his boot - a stop possibly bettered by pushing Eden Hazard's 80th-minute half-volley out of the far corner.

There was an air of inevitability in Howard keeping out Origi's rasping shot and turn after Hazard smashed into the side-netting, while Kompany instigated a 90th-minute counter attack only to have a scuffed attempt impressively saved.

Somehow the USA retained an attacking threat amid the onslaught and the sight of Chris Wondolowski blazing over unmarked from an offside position served due warning to Belgium heading into extra time.

Having almost single-handedly brought about the additional period, Howard was beaten by De Bruyne after Lukaku's fresh legs proved decisive down the left flank and the powerhouse striker made it two as a Belgium break finally came to fruition.

With the game seemingly up, Jurgen Klinsmann threw on Green and his swivelled volley put the match back in the balance.

After Jones' close shave, Dempsey looked destined to send it to a shoot-out but it was Courtois' turn to provide goalkeeping heroics after a brilliant set-piece routine as Wilmots' charges held on.

Match commentary, as it happened

A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

Wow! What a 120 minutes of football that was. This World Cup never fails to deliver. Thanks a lot for joining me, Tom Webber, for the game. Have a great evening and try not to miss the football too much!

FULL TIME - Belgium 2-1 USA (AET): Ninety minutes couldn't separate the two sides, but De Bruyne and Lukaku gave the Red Devils a two-goal lead in the first half of extra time! Green pulled one back for Klinsmann's side to set up a tense finish, but the Europeans saw it through to the end to set up a date with Argentina in the quarter-finals.

120' + 1' THERE IS THE FINAL WHISTLE! BELGIUM ARE THROUGH!

120' Lukaku has time on the near side an attempts to switch the play to Mirallas on the far side. Besler misses the header, but the Belgian misses the ball too and attempts to waste some time down in the corner. One minute of added time to be played!

118' Mirallas is played down into the corner by Alderweireld and he tries to beat Beasley and get into the box. The full-back blocks him off and in his attempts to win back the ball he commits a foul. USA have possession back and will get this forward.

117' Yedling pushes down the right flank and puts a low cross into the box. He looks to pick out Dempsey but the forward is unable

116' Gonzalez catches Witsel as Belgium look to get the ball out of their own half and the referee awards the Red Devils a free kick. Witsel uses the chance to stay down and waste what could be a few valuable seconds before another USA attack!

114' OH MY! WHAT A SAVE COURTOIS! It's a training ground set piece from USA which is taken short with Jones and Bradley combining to get it to Dempsey in the centre of the box. He has a one-on-one with the keeper but fails to find a route past him! Big save!

113' Chadli's first contribution is to concede a penalty 30 yards out from his own goal in a central position. Can USA make the most of this?

112' Wilmots must be hoping to make sure of the result in extra time, as he has taken off undoubtedly one of his top penalty takers in Hazard. In his place comes Chadli.

111' Substitution Eden Hazard sits for Nacer Chadli

110' LUKAKU!! It could have been his second! The striker shows incredible strength to hold off Gonzalez and bring down a long ball. He then turns and runs at the defence, finding a route through them to shoot only for Howard to deny him once more.

109' JONES NEARLY LEVELS IT! The midfielder connects with the ball inside the box but hooks his effort wide of the far post! He cannot believe he has missed that one. USA come so close to netting a dramatic equaliser.

107' Assist Michael Bradley

107' Goal Julian Green

US midfielder Julian Green ((2ndR) scores past Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during the second half of extra-time in the Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
US midfielder Julian Green ((2ndR) scores past Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during the second half of extra-time in the Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

107' GOOOOOOOOAAAALL! USA PULL ONE BACK! Well, well, well! Bradley spots Green's run inside from the left and clips a brilliant ball over the top for his team-mate. The substitute catches it on the volley and directs it past Courtois and into the back of the net! An unbelievable finish if he completely meant it!

106' The second half of extra time is underway!

105' + 2' SubstitutionAlejandro BedoyaJulian Green

105' + 2' HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME - After two minutes of stoppage time, the referee calls an end to the first half of extra time. Goals from De Bruyne and Lukaku give the Red Devils a two-goal cushion, and put them on the brink of a quarter-final date with Argentina!

105'Assist Kevin De Bruyne

105' Goal Romelu Lukaku

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku (L) shoots to score the 2-0 during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku (L) shoots to score the 2-0 during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

105' GOOOOOOOOAAAAAL! LUKAKU MAKES IT TWO! Once more it is the diagonal run in behind the defence from the striker, which De Bruyne spots. He weights his pass perfectly and Lukaku slams it past Howard and into the back of the net!

104' The game is becoming increasingly stretched, and only a Van Buyten block stops Beasley's cross from the left from going to Dempsey in the centre of the box.

103' Again, Howard comes to the rescue! This time he has to deny Mirallas after the Everton man was played through by Hazard. He holds the cross-goal shot exceptionally.

101' HOWARD DENIES LUKAKU AGAIN! Once more the Chelsea striker makes a diagonal run in behind the defence and goes through one-on-one with Howard. From an almost identical angle to his last effort, he fires a low shot at goal which the keeper blocks with his legs before pouncing on the loose ball.

100' USA finally manage to mount an attack against the Red Devils but as the ball is shifted across the top of the box no one can find the space to get a shot away at goal!

98' LUKAKU! The substitute is making the most of his chance against this tired defence, running in behind the defence and firing a low shot at goal. Howard returns to his earlier form, though, and denies him at the near post.

96' Lukaku has been superb since coming on, and he again leads the charge on the break. He passes out to Vertonghen on his left and asks for it back in order to shoot, however, the left-back hesitates and then goes for goal himself and his effort is blocked.

96' Lukaku has been superb since coming on, and he again leads the charge on the break. He passes out to Vertonghen on his left and asks for it back in order to shoot, however, the left-back hesitates and then goes for goal himself and his effort is blocked.

94' What a waste from Bradley! The midfielder has the chance to flight a free kick into the box and USA get plenty of men forward. However, he puts far too much power behind it and sends it straight out of play for a goal kick.

93' Goal Kevin De Bruyne

A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

93' GOOOOOOOAAAAL!! BELGIUM TAKE THE LEAD! Origi uses his strength to shield the ball from Besler on the halfway line and race into the box from the right wing. He cuts it back to De Bruyne who gets it out of his feet with one touch before adding a lovely finish, sending the ball to nestle in the far corner.

92' USA are the first to threaten in the additional period as Beasley's cross is met at the back post by Jones. He tries to send his header back across goal but is craning his neck back and is unable to keep his effort down.

91' SubstitutionDivock OrigiRomelu Lukaku

91' We are underway in extra time!

FULL TIME - Belgium 0-0 USA: In an unbelievably open game, the score somehow remains goalless after 90 minutes. Klinsmann mostly has Howard to thank for that as the keeper thwarted the Red Devils time and again. Now a short break before the next 30 minutes.

A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
 

90' + 3' And there is the full-time whistle! We have 30 minutes of extra time coming your way.

90' + 2' WONDOLOWSKI MISSES THE CHANCE TO WIN IT! The ball is lofted into the box and Jones cushions it down for Wondolowski with his head. Completely unmarked, he just has to slot it into the net, but somehow he fires over the bar!

90' + 1' Two more chances for Belgium! First, Hazard races to the byeline but his cross is sent behind off the chest of Gonzalez. Then, from the resultant corner, Fellaini heads the ball over the top. Oh, and while I have a chance to catch my breath, we have three minutes of added time shown on the clock!

90' Kompany then directs a counterattack from deep and continues his run down the field. He gets into the box but De Bruyne's delivery is behind him and he can only fumble an effort towards the bottom corner which Howard parries aside.

89' Now it is USA's turn to break, with Bedoya burning past Van Buyten on the left flank. However, Kompany is covering in behind and makes an important challenge.

88' SIDE NETTING! Belgium once more catch USA on the break, with De  Bruyne leading the charge. He looks to his left and sees Hazard making a run outside so lays the ball into his path. The Chelsea man attempts to squeeze the ball in at the near post but only manages to find the side netting. He ought to have tested Howard there, really!

86' Important clearance from Van Buyten! The centre-back just about manages to put Jones' cross out for a corner with Dempsey waiting just behind him, hoping to put it past Courtois. There could still be a late winner here!

85' ORIGI!! The striker once more proves dangerous with his back to goal, receiving a pass from Hazard before spinning away from his marker with ease. He unleashes a powerful right-foot effort which arrows towards the centre of the goal, meaning Howard can help it over the top for a corner.

83' VAN BUYTEN! The centre-back is the next in an increasingly long line of Belgian names to have been denied by Howard tonight. He remains up from a corner and is played behind brilliantly, but his attempt to dink the ball over the keeper is unsuccessful.

82' Mirallas is again the danger man, picking up the ball and beating Beasley down to the byeline. Fortunately for the defender, Bedoya is back to cover and makes a challenge to put it out for a corner.

81' Somehow, this game has become even more open then it originally was! USA try to put together a counterattack and do just enough to win a throw deep in the Belgium half. That will relieve some pressure on their defence with just under 10 minutes remaining.

79' HOWARD DENIES HAZARD! Mirallas has been impressive since coming on and he burns away from two defenders on the right flank. He gets to the byeline and cuts the ball back, but Fellaini is unable to bring it under. However, it drops to Hazard on the edge of the box but his shot is batted away by the unbeatable (up to now!) Howard.

78' Gonzalez goes down and has to receive treatment from medical staff, meaning there is a short break in play. Both sides again use the opportunity to take on some fluids.

76' HOWARD SAVES THE DAY AGAIN! Hazard does brilliantly to track back and win the ball off Yedlin before embarking on a run down the pitch. He plays it into Origi, who spins his man and sends Mirallas in behind the defence. The Everton man looks to pick out the far corner when one-on-one with Howard, but the keeper again makes a vital save.

74' Dempsey has options to his left and right but opts to go alone, shooting from 25 yards out. He aims his effort well but it never has enough pace on it to take it past Courtois, who smothers it near the corner of his goal.

74' STAT: The last six Belgian goals at World Cups have come in the closing 20 minutes of matches. Are we in store for some late drama?

72' Substitution Graham Zusi sits for Chris Wondolowski

72' ORIGI!! HE IS DENIED AGAIN! Mirallas does superbly, dribbling in from the right and worming his way between a host of white shirts. As he enters the box he is tackled but the ball falls to Origi, whose first-time effort is again blocked by Howard. He really ought to have tucked that away.

71' DEMPSEY! The forward hits a great shot from 20 yards out after receiving the ball from Yedlin, but he is unable to pick out the bottom corner and Courtois gets down to it.

69' JUST WIDE BY WITSEL! The midfielder is giving an unbelievable amount of time on the ball just over 20 yards from goal. He takes one touch to set himself and then rifles a low shot which skids narrowly wide of Howard's net!

67' Yedlin again shows a good turn of pace to knock the ball down the line and beat Vertonghen to it so he can fire in a cross. Demspey is waiting for it, but Courtois comes off his line and plucks it out the sky. For a second he looks like he may spill it, but he manages to hold onto it.

65' STAT: USA have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 16 World Cup fixtures against European opposition.

63' Belgium break at pace with De Bruyne leading the charge in a two-on-two. He squares the ball to Mirallas who attempts to cut inside and back out, meaning the attack loses momentum and USA get numbers back. He ends up passing back to De Bruyne who sees his effort on goal blocked.

61' It proves to be Mertens' last act of the game as he is replaced by Mirallas, who scored the last time these two sides faced off.

60' Substitution Dries Mertens sits for Kevin Mirallas

59' Nearly a chance for USA as a miscommunication in the Belgian defence allows a cross to bounce through to Zusi at the back post. His shot ends up starting off a game of pinball in the box but no one in white can take advantage!

57' VERTONGHEN! The left-back has a couple of efforts in the space of a minute, but he is unable to find the net. A low shot from an acute angle which Howard keeps out with his legs is followed by an ambitious, but well-executed, volley from a raking diagonal pass. He cannot keep it down, though, and it sails high and wide of the target.

56' OFF THE BAR! ORIGI AGAIN! Alderweireld's cross from the right his headed brilliantly towards goal by Origi. Howard is completely stranded and breathes a sigh of relief as the ball crashes off the top of his bar and out for a goal kick.

54' HOW DOES ORIGI NOT SCORE! He might not get a better chance all night! Once more it is Vertonghen with a great cross from the left, it skids past De Bruyne and then Besler, but with Origi lurking at the back post you would be certain it was going in. Wrong! The young striker steps over the ball and lets it run under his feet. He cannot believe it!

52' Fellaini acts as a brick wall, shielding Bradley from winning the ball but remaining up on his feet as his opponent flies off him. He turns and bears down on goal but yet again it is another attempt from distance which fails to worry Howard.

DaMarcus Beasley of the United States falls into the net after clearing the ball off the line during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
DaMarcus Beasley of the United States falls into the net after clearing the ball off the line during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

50' USA remain exceptionally open in midfield on the counterattack, but when Belgium don't break at pace they are able to get plenty of bodies behind the ball. The Red Devils need to look to the pace of Mertens and Hazard in the transition to have their best chance at creating something.

48' GOOD SAVE HOWARD! Origi somehow manages to wriggle through a couple of white shirts and carry the ball out to the right. He lays it off to De Bruyne who stabs a cross in for Mertens in space. The Napoli man gets the best attempt possible off, looping a header behind him and towards goal and Howard has to leap on his line and knock it behind for a corner.

46' We are back underway!

HALF TIME - Belgium 0-0 USA: The game remains goalless at the break, but that could have been very different had Howard not kept out Origi's dangerous shot in the first minute. Since then, both sides have had their chances but neither have manage to truly worry the opposition goalkeeper. It just means the drama is still to come, so be sure to join me for the second half in 15 minutes!

45' + 3' There is the half-time whistle!

45' + 1' USA nearly catch out Belgium as a half-cleared corner is looped back into the box. Courtois manages to punch it out as far as Origi, who burns away from Jones and races into the final third. As the white shirts close in he squares the ball to De Bruyne who shoots first time, but Howard is equal to his low effort.

45' There will be three minutes of added time played.

44' Belgium fail to make the most of another set piece. De Bruyne whips in a corner from the left but he delivers it too close to Howard, who is able to punch away the danger. Mertens attempts to keep the ball in play but it ends up going out for a throw off him on the near side.

42' Yellow Card Vincent Kompany

42' Kompany picks up a booking as he attempts to win the ball by clattering through the back of Dempsey. He was a few words for the referee, but he cannot really complain with that booking.

Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (L) punches the ball in front of Belgium's defender and captain Vincent Kompany (2R) during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images)
Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (L) punches the ball in front of Belgium's defender and captain Vincent Kompany (2R) during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images)

41' ZUSI! HE CANNOT CONNECT! Bradley switches the play out the right with an absolutely exquisite pass, and Yedlin brings it under before getting his head up. He spots Zusi peeling off his man and cuts the ball back towards him, but his attempt to fire an effort on goal is poor as he slices the ball off to the side under pressure.

40' Belgium win a free kick on the near side and Mertens is handed the responsibility of sending it into the box. However, he fails to beat the first man as USA instantly relieve the pressure that may have been put on their defence. A let off from the Red Devils.

38' When they don't have the ball, though, USA are dropping exceptionally deep. It is allowing Mertens and Hazard space in which to pick up the ball, but the sheer number of bodies that Klinsmann's side have back make it difficult for them to create.

36' Bradley clips a great diagonal ball over the top of the defence with Jones running beyond to try and het his head on it. The midfielder is tracked well by Vertonghen who manages to clear the danger comfortably. USA are stepping up their game towards the end of this half.

34' Yedlin's first contribution is to earn his side a corner after his attempted-cross from the right is blocked by Vertonghen. Zusi swings it in and Dempsey brings it down on his chest on the edge of the box. He tees up Jones but the midfielder is unable to replicate his strike against Portugal, driving a poor shot harmlessly wide of the post.

32' Substitution Fabian Johnsonsits for DeAndre Yedlin

31' USA are coming under increasing amounts of pressure here, and it appears they are going to be forced into an early change. Johnson has gone down after holding his hamstring and won't be able to continue, so Klinsmann is set to introduce Yedlin.

29' HAZARD! It would have been a special goal! He picks up the ball 30 yards from goal and spins to face goal. He gets it onto his right foot but his shot skids comfortably into the arms of Howard.

28' Hazard is beginning to have more of an impact on this game now! He dances his way forward from the left, breaking into the area before being tackled cleanly. However, the Chelsea man wins a corner.

26' GOOD CLEARANCE! The USA defence is cut through with ease by the Red Devils, but Mertens' ball across the face of goal for Origi is dealt with by Beasley. He had to get rid of that or his team could well have been 1-0 down!

25' STAT: Only Iran (30%) had a lower average possession figure in the group stage that Jurgen Klinsmann’s team (39%). So far today, though, USA have accumulated 55% of possession.

23' WHAT A MISS FROM DE BRUYNE! Zusi is caught on the ball in midfield by Vertonghen and he races towards the area with USA caught short at the back. He slides a pass to De Bruyne on his left and the former Chelsea man cuts inside but drags his effort wide of the near post. He didn't connect with it cleanly enough.

21' DEMPSEY!! A shot on target from USA! Dempsey cleverly flicks the ball into the path of Bradley and the midfielder charges his way into the box. He runs out of space to shoot but manages to lay it off for Dempsey, whose attempt to place the ball in the corner is at a nice height for Courtois to save.

20' Zusi whips a corner into the box from the right and Cameron flicks it on from the near post. Dempsey is free at the back post but the ball is just too far ahead of him to supply a finishing touch! Agonising.

18' Yellow Card Geoff Cameron

17' After being allowed plenty of freedom for a few moments, stewards run onto the pitch and escort the fan off the playing surface, and undoubtedly out of the stadium too.

16' The referee has to halt play as a fan invades the pitch! Is that the first time this has happened in this World Cup? Jurgen Klinsmann isn't too impressed, though, and is pictured shaking his head next to the dugouts.

14' It has been a fairly lively start to proceedings so far. Both sides have seen their fair share of the ball, but Belgium have looked more likely to penetrate the opposition defence. USA's two wide players, Bedoya and Zusi, are going to be needed to help keep Mertens and Hazard at bay.

12' Another long throw, this time from the right by Alderweireld, is flicked on by Fellaini. Origi isn't quick enough to react, but neither is Cameron and he knocks the ball out of play for a corner to Belgium.

10' The Red Devils attempt a Stoke City-esque long throw from the left, with Fellaini the target in the box. The midfielder is marked front and back, though, and manages to commit a foul in his attempts to shake free.

US forward and captain Clint Dempsey (C), Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (R) and Belgium's defender Daniel Van Buyten (L) vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
US forward and captain Clint Dempsey (C), Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (R) and Belgium's defender Daniel Van Buyten (L) vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Belgium and USA at Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

8' Dempsey manages to keep a long ball in play down by the corner flag and sends a pass to Jones as he arrives in the final third from deep. He attempts to cushion it into the path of Zusi but Vertonghen reads his intentions and steps out to intercept. Belgium then look to break but De Bruyne's attempt to thread Origi through is overhit.

6' Beasley surges forward down the left but is chased by Fellaini. The Manchester United man slides in as the American goes for a cross, doing just enough to put him off as the ball bends out of play for a goal kick.

5' A few errant passes from USA as they look to find a route into the final third so far. Beasley and Bradley have both been guilty of sloppy distribution in the opening minutes and will be not able to continue in that fashion.

3' Belgium are keeping up the pressure but a corner that is swung in from the far side by Mertens is headed away by Jones. Dempsey looks to catch the opposition short by latching onto the loose ball and racing down the pitch, but he is soon caught by a red shirt.

1' GREAT SAVE HOWARD! De Bruyne ignites a great move from Belgium with a give-and-go with Mertens on the near side. Despite coming under pressure he manages to slot a pass into Origi, whose first touch sees him breeze past Besler and into a shooting area. The angle is acute, though, and Howard manages to block his cross-goal shot with his legs. What a start!

1' We are off in Salvador!

The pre-match formalities are almost over, so the game will be underway imminently.

The are out on the pitch at Arena Fonte Nova for the national anthems. Kick off is fast approaching and just one place in the quarter-finals remains!

While playing for Germany at World Cup 1994, USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann scored against Belgium in the round of 16 and die Mannschaft won the game 3-2. Will he help sink the Red Devils once again today?

In fact, it was the first time the Red Devils won all three of their group games at a World Cup. It was also the first time they had won three successive games in the competition, keeping Marc Wilmots' unbeaten record in competitive fixtures, since taking charge in 2012, intact.

A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
A Belgium fan looks on prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

Belgium coasted through the group stages, defeating Algeria, Russia, and South Korea, without really excelling. Conversely, USA squeezed through on goal difference despite defeat in their final group game. Nevertheless, the teams begin this game as equals and it is going to be fascinating to see which one can emerge as the victor.

Jurgen Klinsmann retains the same backline that suffered a 1-0 defeat to Germany in their previous outing, but Geoff Cameron returns to the starting XI in midfield alongside Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones. The front three consists of Alejandro Bedoya and Graham Zusi either side of star man Clint Dempsey.

USA (4-3-3): Howard; Johnson, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Cameron, Bradley, Jones; Bedoya, Dempsey, Zusi.

Following Anthony Vanden Borre's withdrawal from the squad with a broken ankle, Toby Alderweireld slots in at right-back. Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini return to the midfield with Steven Defour suspended, and Divock Origi is given the nod to lead the line with Romelu Lukaku forced to take his place on the bench.

Belgium (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; Mertens, De Bruyne, Hazard; Origi.

But the big news in how Belgium shape up today comes in defence. Vincent Kompany, who had been struggling with a groin injury, has been passed fit to start alongside Daniel van Buyten at centre-back. USA, meanwhile, look set to operate in a 4-3-3 formation, compared to their usual 4-5-1. Full line-ups coming your way now.

This is to be the sixth meeting of these two nations. The Yanks won their first encounter 3-0 in the group stage of the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, but have since lost on four straight occasions. Belgium’s latest victory came in May 2013, as they ran out 4-2 winners in a friendly in Cleveland. Marouane Fellaini, Geoff Cameron and Clint Dempsey all scored in that game and are in the starting line-ups today. Kevin Mirallas, who netted the opener, is on the bench for the Red Devils.

Match commentary: Goal.com

Published: 12:32 am Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Last modified: 9:53 pm Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Comment Policy