By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – USA are out of the FIFA World Cup after losing 2-1 to Belgium at the Arena Fonte Nova this evening (July 1st). With the game goalless after 90 minutes the tie went to extra-time, where two goals for the Belgians, from Kevin de Bruyne and Romeu Lukaku, looked to have settled the tie.
Yet a goal from Julian Green took the contest to the wire, with the Americans pressing, and very nearly leveling, right up until the final whistle. Belgium, the much fancied favorites, had been given a real scare.
In the game’s early stages it looked like the Europeans might be in for a straightforward day’s work. USA goalkeeper Tim Howard made a fine stop from Divock Origi, a recurring theme throughout the match.
The first half was relatively calm with neither side managing to fully grab the advantage. De Bruyne had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, but he dragged his effort wide when in space.
Origi and his pace were always a threat on the counter-attack and USA looked concerned about committing too many bodies forward. It made for a tetchy first half and neither side could break the deadlock, despite Belgium having the better opportunities.
In the second half Belgium took complete control of proceedings. USA could barely get a look in and at times were clinging on for dear life. First Howard saved from Dries Martens before Origi hit the crossbar. The Americans were camped in their own half with no escape route.
Origi was a constant danger, forcing Howard into action again on 71 minutes. The Belgians pressed and pressed but Howard was equal to everything they could throw at him. Until extra-time. In the 93rd minute Lukaku combined with de Bruyne and his low effort finally found a way past the veteran goalkeeper.
On 105 minutes Belgium hit on the counter, Lukaku slamming the ball into the roof of the net to double their advantage. But Michael Bradley’s exquisite pass was expertly volleyed home by Julian Green to bring USA back into the game, but that was as good as it got for them.
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