I’m struggling to think of a harder working team than the USA in this tournament, sports fans. They may not be the most technically accomplished team playing this summer, but they certainly put in a full ninety minutes in every match that they play, and I even suspect that there’s a chance that they might edge past Belgium this evening. Food for thought time – there hadn’t, prior to the start of this tournament, been a quarter-finalist from the CONCACAF region since the USA were beaten at that stage by Germany in 2002. This year, if the USA win, there will be two. Perhaps the New World’s time at the top table is coming sooner than we’d predicted.
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Full-time: Belgium 2-1 The USA. An absolutely superb match AGAIN, and very unlucky for America, who gave it absolutely everything and then some. The difference, ultimately, was the substitutes, but the details seems to pall in comparison with the excitement and the spectacle. FOOTBALL!
Since the goal, the USA have clambered right the way back into this match and it’s Belgium’s turn to look exhausted. They’re holding on… for now.
Oh, HANG ON! It’s not over yet! Two minutes into the second period, the USA pull one back through Julian Green, and it’s back to 2-1. Thirteen to play.
And there it is. Lukaku scores on the break, and Belgium lead by two goals to nil. The USA players are absolutely out on their feet. I don’t believe there’s a way back for them from this.
But you never know.
Lukaku AGAIN gets through on the left hand side and his shot is blocked again by Howard. I kind of suspect that this match might be more likely to finish 2-0 than 1-1 now.
Lukaku’s low shot is pushed away by Howard. This game is just ludicrously open now.
Two minutes into extra-time, Belgium have the lead. Romelu Lukaku is too strong on the rght and Kevin De Bruyne steers the ball wide of Howard and in.
Didnt look like it to me. I think it went up before the ball went out.
I think it’s more likely that he flagged the chap on the near side who was trotting back, or at least got distracted by him.
Flag was up for a goalkick, probably. Maybe?
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. The ball is lofted into the Belgian penalty area and Jeff Cameron is seven yards out and unmarked. He blazes the ball over, but the flag is up. Repeats confirm that he wasn’t offside.
Full-time: No score. Another thirty minutes it is, then.
Belgium have had 16 (SIXTEEN) corners this evening. If they don’t win this evening, they only really have themselves to blame.
Big chance for Belgium. Some beautiful football from Belgium to move the ball from one end of the pitch to the other, but in the centre it’s… VINCENT KOMPANY? who mis-hits his shot and Howard scrambles the ball behind.
Hazard shoots into the side-netting. I’m not completely averse to the idea of another half hour of this.
A lot of love in the room for Tim Howard this evening, and it’s fair to say that the goalkeeper has probably been the best player on the pitch this evening.
Meanwhile, my view of the match has been somewhat disturbed.
At the other end of the pitch, Howard is forced into blocking the ball with his legs.
The USA team looks absolutely pooped. Not sure how they’d get through an additional thirty minutes. Dempsey has a go at goal, comfortable save.
Another chance for Belgium. Some neat and , dare I say it, traditional wing play on the left is followed by a low cross into the centre that Mertens stabs narrowly wide from a tough angle. A couple of seconds later, Mertens is substituted. Tough crowd.
Ten minutes into the second half, and it’s still goalless. But that isn’t for a want of trying on the part of Belgium, who seem much improved since the start of the second half and have hit the top of the crossbar, as well as pulling a couple of decent saves out of Tim Howard.
Goalless at half-time, but another entertaining half of football. Belgium had narrowly the better of the chances – De Bruyne probably should have had a hat-trick by now – but the USA have given as good as they’ve got, and there seems to be a brittleness about the Belgian defence which could be breached. Back in ten minutes for the second half. There’s a ton of mileage in this match yet.
Long-ish range shot from De Gruyne saved comfortably by Tim Howard. De Gruyne is pretty clearly the biggest Belgian threat to the USA and he’s getting an awful lot of room at the moment.
Yellow card for St Vincent of Kompany. Who’d have thought it, eh?
Belgium’s final ball hasn’t been great so far. They had three chances to cross the ball from a relatively unencumbered position in the space of a couple of minutes and all three were comfortably dealt with by the American defence.
Substitute for the USA. Fabian Johnson is injured, and he’s replaced by DeAndre Yedlin. Looks like he’s twanged his hamstring, to me.
Jan Vertonghen tries to pull the back for Marouane Fellaini with a cross from the left, but DaMarcus Beasley clears the danger. (Sorry I’m running a little late here, but really everything is a little chaotic around here this evening)
The pitch invader was wering a “Save The Favelas” t-shirt, so a little free publicity for him, there. Would you want to “save” favelas, though? I’d have thought you’d have wanted to get rid of debilitating economic inequality, myself.
A chance at both ends, sports fans. At one end of the pitch, Clint Dempsey has a shot comfortably saved, but then Belgium break and Kevin de Bruyne gets clear, only to drag his shot wide of the goal. This has been a terrific opening.
Well, that was all very odd. A man just ran onto the pitch and ran around for a good minute while nothing happened. I thought he might have been a ghost – the ghost of Joseph Gaetjens, perhaps – but then he was finally awoken by security guards who were presumably risen from quite a deep slumber to get to him. And they arrested him. So presumably he wasn’t a ghost after all. I don’t think you can arrest ghosts.
Pretty slow start, all told. The USA look better organised than they did in their last match so far. As for Belgium, well, they are little too clinical for my taste. There’s something about them which is all a little too well-organised, a little too clean. Think it’s going to be a tight one this evening.
Good evening sports fans. By way of introduction, I fancy the USA to win this one. I haven’t been de-socked by Belgium yet, and if the American team does anything, it works its goddam socks off.