World Cup 2014: Day 21
Argentina edged into the quarter-finals after a nervy performance that needed an injury time winner to see them overcome Switzerland in the last 16. Many people picked Argentina to go all the way, but they looked far from World Champions in a stuttered performance against the European side. Switzerland looked the brighter side in the opening half, Granit Xhaka forcing a good save from Sergio Romero, before Josip Drmic then wasted a chance when put clean through, chipping straight into the grateful arms of Romero.
After the break, Argentina showed a little, with Diego Benaglio forced into saves to deny Marcos Rojo and Gonzalo Higuain. The Swiss keeper as then on form to deny Messi, before also reacting quickly to deny Rodrigo Palacio on the follow-up. Into extra time, Di Maria, who had been having a poor tournament so far, brought a flying save out of Benaglio, before the Real Madrid star found a way through 2 minutes from time when he a low shot beyond the keeper to send his side into the final 8.
Extra time was also needed in the other clash as Belgium overcame USA to line-up a quarter-final clash with Argentina. Tim Howard was almost a hero for America, called into a save in the opening minute when an outstretched foot denied Belgian youngster Divock Origi. At the other end, Clint Dempsey looked lively in testing Thibaut Courtois as America looked to benefit from the attacking formation selected by Jurgen Klinsmann. It should have perhaps been 1-0 to Belgium before the break, but former Chelsea man Kevin De Bruyne dragged a tame shot wide of the upright.
The second half saw Howard the busier of the two keepers again, first off denying Dries Mertens, before Origi could then only head onto the bar. Howard then denied Origi after a tame shot, before saving from Eden Hazard as Belgium continued to push. At the death in normal time, a barnstorming run from Vincent Kompany almost resulted in a goal, but Howard was again equal to the challenge to send the game into extra time.
Into extra time, Belgium threw on Lukaku for Origi, and the impact was almost immediate when the Chelsea man broke down the right before cutting back for De Bruyne to fire beyond a helpless Howard to break the deadlock. Mirallas almost made it 2, but Howard was on hand for another great save, but could do little to keep out Lukaku, after De Bruyne this time turned provider, when he fired home first-time at the near post. The result seemed a formality, but then USA hit back through Julian Green, with a volley from outside the box, but Belgium had enough to hold on for the win.Share this: