In the battle of pancakes vs. waffles, waffles won. Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku each netted extra-time goals for Belgium who knocked the United States out of the World Cup with a dramatic 2-1 victory in Salvador, Brazil.
Belgium will move on to face Lionel Messi and Argentina on Sunday afternoon. The US on the other hand, is going home after losing a heart-breaker in extra-time for a 2nd straight World Cup. The US suffered a similar fate against Ghana in 2010.
This match almost never made it to extra-time. With 1 minute left in stoppage time, Chris Wondolowski had the opportunity of a lifetime, but his point-blank shot sailed over the bar and the US was denied what would have been a stunning win.
Three minutes into the extra session, a terrific run by Romelu Lukaku who had just come into the game resulted in De Bruyne’s goal for the Belgians. On a counter attack 12 minutes later, it was De Bruyne as the distributor and Lukaku as the beneficiary. Belgium took a 2-0 lead and it appeared the US would go out without a fight.
In the 107th minute, it was like lightning struck for the US. Julian Green, the 18-year-old sensation came on and on his first World Cup touch, scored off a brilliant ball from Michael Bradley. In the blink of an eye, the US were back in it.
With 6 minutes remaining, the equalizer that would have been heard ’round the world was saved by Thibaut Courtois. Wondolowski delivered a fantastic through ball which led to an epic showdown. One on one, Dempsey vs. Courtois, and Courtis came up with the save of the game. It was the opportunity the US had to and should have had, but were rejected.
Despite Tim Howard making a World Cup record 16 saves, and standing on his head the entire game while building “The Wall of Howard”, the US just didn’t play with enough urgency. Belgium controlled the majority of the play, and once Lukaku came on, Howard’s wall came tumbling down.
Once the US played with the fire that they should have had the entire match, it was too late.