The final last-16 tie of the 2014 World Cup finals between Belgium and the USA on Tuesday was expected to be a thrilling encounter - it turned out to be arguably the best game of the tournament.
Belgium headed into the contest at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador as the favourites, but Jurgen Klinsmann’s side were not exactly underdogs – after all, they had finished ahead of Portugal in their group and had conceded just once against Germany.
The USA gave Belgium a run for their money and made them work hard for the victory.
It finished goalless after 90 minutes, but not because of lack of chances. Both sides went at it hammer and tongs, but neither managed to make the breakthrough in normal time.
Belgium, who had exhibited more quality in normal time, took the lead in the 93rd minute through Kevin De Bruyne, who was set up by substitute Romelu Lukaku.
The Chelsea striker scored the Red Devils’ second goal on the stroke of half time in the extra-time period, but at the start of the second half, Bayern Munich teenager Julian Green halved the deficit for the USA.
Klismann’s side pressed on for the remainder of the match and came close on a number of occasions, but fell just short in what will go down in history as one of the best and most entertaining games of the 2014 World Cup.
Arsenal and England international forward Theo Walcott was watching the match and was clearly entertained with how the events unfolded, taking to social networking site Twitter to post the following message:
I don't know about anyone else but that was one of the best games I have ever watched FULL-STOP!!! #Brazil2014— Theo Walcott (@theowalcott) July 1, 2014
The match between Belgium and the USA was certainly one of the best in international football in recent years - it might just also be the best game of the World Cup so far.
It’s the end of the road for the USA, who showed enough spirit, courage and energy to earn the respect of all football fans.
As for Belgium, next up for them is a quarter-final tie against the mighty Argentina.