Belgium secured their first FIFA World Cup quarter-final berth since 1986 with a pulsating 2-1 extra-time win over United States.
Kevin De Bruyne, one of a host of Belgium players to find USA goalkeeper Tim Howard in sensationally inspired form, smashed into the bottom corner in the third minute of the additional period after the 90 minutes somehow ended goalless at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova.
Romelu Lukaku, dropped to the bench having failed to fire so far in the competition, then gave Belgium breathing space with an emphatic 105th-minute second.
But there was further drama as a resilient USA team hit back through substitute Julian Green and Jermaine Jones poked agonisingly wide, with Clint Dempsey also denied late on, before Belgium sealed the prize of a last-eight meeting against Argentina in Brasilia, despite the stunning efforts of the brilliant Howard.
Captain Vincent Kompany returned from groin and abdominal complaints to bolster Belgium’s defence, while Divock Origi was favoured to Lukaku in attack.
The 19-year-old almost enjoyed a dream start, stealing in behind the defence to draw a fine save from Howard on the angle inside the first minute.
But United States quickly settled into the contest and Michael Bradley combined with Dempsey for a 20th-minute opening, although the latter’s shot lacked the power to trouble Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.