Kompany’s Belgium to meet Argentina in last eight
- 01 July 2014 23:38
- Posted by @markbooth_mcfc
There will be a City-heavy showdown in the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup after Belgium saw off USA to book their place in the last eight.
Extra-time was needed for the fourth time in eight second round matches and, after a goalless 90 minutes, Kevin De Bruyne came up with the opener, finally beating the brilliant Tim Howard two minutes into the additional 30.
Belgium added another through substitute Romelu Lukaku, who took advantage of visibly exhausted opposition and looked to have finished off the American resistance once and for all on the stroke of half-time in extra-time.
Julian Green reduced the arrears almost straight from the restart to set up a grandstand finale but, despite a late USA cavalry charge, Belgium showed their resilience to hold on and set up a mouthwatering meeting with the Albiceleste.
Kompany overcame a niggling groin strain which kept him out of their group stage win over South Korea to start and captain his nation in their first knockout round match since World Cup 2002.
He partnered former City loan star Daniel van Buyten at the heart of the back four and shrugged off any fitness doubts to put in a classy and accomplished defensive performance.
Over the course of the match, Vincent won the ball for his team four times, made three interceptions and came out on top in all but one of his aerial duels.
He also nearly scored the winning goal in the final minute of the 90 when he embarked on a stunning solo run which took him from his own defensive third to the opposition penalty box.
The only set-back for Kompany was receiving his first booking of the competition for a late challenge on Clint Dempsey after 41 minutes.
Seven group winners had already secured their places in the quarter-finals of the tournament by the time Marc Wilmots’ side took to the field for the final Second Round encounter.
A resilient and well-drilled USA team that had already seen off Ghana and Portugal in the competition’s so-called “Group of Death” stood between Belgium and the opportunity to make it eight from eight for the first time in World Cup history.
After Argentina v Switzerland failed to live up to expectations from an entertainment point of view earlier in the day, this match kicked off with far more promise, with punch and counter-punch being traded between the two teams.
It was an intriguing clash of styles with Belgium’s searing pace and power contrasting interestingly against America’s hard-running and commitment to counter-attacking with numbers.
"De Bruyne was presented with one of the first good opportunities to put the Red Devils ahead with 24 minutes on the clock but, from just inside the penalty area, he dragged his effort wide of Howard’s goal."
...Belgium v USA: Match report...
That was as close as the favourites came to taking the lead in the first 45 minutes, meaning Jürgen Klinsmann would have been the happier of the two managers at the halfway stage.
Belgium had been the tournament’s late starters, failing to score in the opening half of any of their four Brazil 2014 matches and with their earliest goal coming in the 78th minute against South Korea in their final group game.
Once again, they would need to turn it on after the break and they looked to be on their way to doing just that as they peppered Howard’s goal straight from the restart.
The Everton keeper was called into action on a number of occasions to deny Origi and De Bruyne from opening the scoring.
Kevin Mirallas replaced Dries Mertens on the hour, allowing Hazard to move inside behind Origi but USA were unfortunate not to take the lead themselves, when Graham Zusi saw his wicked volley deflect off a defender and pinball around the Belgium area before it was cleared.
"The USA goalkeeper made his third excellent save after 75 minutes and it was the pick of the bunch as he turned away his clubmate Mirallas’s goalbound slot with his legs after Origi played the Everton winger through on goal."
...Belgium v USA: Match report...
Howard came to the rescue again four minutes later with yet another scrambling stop – this time from Hazard and he was required again in the final minute of normal time to deny Vincent one of the goals of the tournaments.
Kompany made a brilliant interception to thwart a promising US counter, then carried the ball the length of the field, before playing it out wide but De Bruyne’s centre was just behind the skipper and he couldn’t sort his feet out in time, meaning that the ‘keeper could deflect his shot wide.
In all, Howard made 11 saves in the 90 minutes – the most by any goalkeeper at this summer’s competition.
Extra-time was needed for the fourth time in the second round and Wilmots used his last remaining change to bring Lukaku in for the impressive Origi.
The Chelsea striker made an immediate impact, setting up the winning goal just two minutes into the additional 30 minutes.
Lukaku’s fresh legs took him between and beyond US centre-back and right-back and when his cross was deflected out to De Bruyne, the midfielder showed clean feet to work a yard of space for himself to finally beat Howard.
It looked like game over when Lukaku added a second on the stroke of half-time in extra-time but Bayern Munich striker Green finished off Michael Bradley’s excellent lofted through ball with a sublime, instinctive volley to make it 2-1 with 13 minutes of the 120 left.
USA demonstrated the same heart and passion which has characterised them throughout their Brazilian adventure but, despite a flurry of late chances, they couldn’t beat Thibault Courtois in the Belgium goal to take the game to penalties.
Though they are out of the competition, like Algeria, Chile and Mexico before them, USA will have drawn legions of admirers across world football with their wholehearted performances.
But the night belonged to Belgium who will face Argentina in Brasilia on Saturday evening at 17:00 (BST)