To round off what has been a fantastic start to July and also for Mother Nature, I will use this blog feed to round off the match between Belgium and USA as it unfolds. Make sure to keep pinned to this blog as later on, I will be publishing the highlights of the previous match I missed while I was at Croydon College sorting some paperwork out :-).
Belgium 2-1 USA (ET – FT)
20 minutes into the match and already there are some good signs of a goal being scored, let’s hope that either team start July off with a bang. BBC Sport quotes made by football commentators will be included in this blog feed, plus my own thoughts and also the pictures from the BBC Sport website, so that all 3 combine together.
Former Scotland International, Pat Nevin: “That yellow card has been coming, too many players have been diving into challenges. When you are taking on a team with the likes of Eden Hazard in it, don’t dive in. It’s exactly what they want you to do. Geoff Cameron, playing in central defensive midfield, will now be scared to make a challenge and won’t dive in again.”
Tom Rostance: “That state of national optimism will be continuing to grow as the US have a strong few minutes. Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey combine superbly on the edge of the box and Dempsey tests Thibaut Courtois with a low shot from 18 yards. The crowd are alive now. The men in white making all the running, pressing Belgium’s players high up the pitch and forcing errors. And now a great chance at the other end! Belgium nick the ball back in the centre-circle and spring away, a three-on-two break. Jan Vertonghen is the legs through the middle, he finds Kevin De Bruyne on the overlap but from the moment he cuts inside on to his right foot the momentum is gone. The former Chelsea man gets a shot off but it’s tame and wide. Encouraging few minutes though. Both teams looking dangerous.”
Pat Nevin: “Real belief from the USA, I think they had gone into their shells at the start of the game but they are beginning to come into it now. It’s as if they have just been released. They are now going at full pace and both their full-backs are coming into it.”
Tom Rostance: “It’s got to be! No! Lovely stuff form Belgium though as they scythe through the US defence, Jan Vertonghen is in behind and does the right thing in drilling the ball across, but Divock Origi is crowded out. Great stuff…”
Former England International, Danny Murphy: “When Marouane Fellaini is trying to get back into position, it is like he is in slow motion and he really needs to try hard to get back quicker. But that chance for Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne was the best chance of the game. He completely mis-hit it and a player of his quality, who was their top scorer in qualifying with the top number of assists, will be disappointed with that.”
Tom Rostance: “There’s got to be goals in this one. Surely…So open, end-to-end stuff, this is an antidote to the knockout stages so far. Toby Alderweireld has to recover well to prevent Clint Dempsey from getting in and moments later Eden Hazard drills a shot at Tim Howard.”
Danny Murphy: “So much for the tight game we talked about. Both sides are having a real go and it’s exactly what we wanted to see.”
Pat Nevin: “The first 20 minutes were cagey but now it is open and it feels like a Belgium goal is coming. USA have to hold on because if they were to go a goal down it would be very hard to come back. We just saw the first piece of brilliance of the night from Eden Hazard. Belgium are moving the ball quickly which is exhausting for the opposition. Hard work for USA now but they don’t mind that. They will work all night long.”
Tom Rostance: “Big problems for the USA as dynamic right-back Fabian Johnson pings a muscle and is down. The former Germany youth international will not run this one off. He’s finished.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Calum Crowe: Belgium playing with much more freedom. Almost as if the pressure of failure is off after making it out the group.
Tom Rostance: “Jurgen Klinsmann has to make a change as Fabian Johnson is replaced by 20-year-old DeAndre Yedlin. That’s not a typo by the way. DeAndre. The youth of today…”
Danny Murphy: “This is the third or fourth USA player who has pulled up with a hamstring problem in this World Cup, and this is a real blow for them. Fabian Johnson, arguably their best player so far, was having some success against Jan Vertonghen.”
Tom Rostance: “DeAndre Yedlin wins a corner with his first touch, great energy down the right. He plays for the Seattle Sounders by the way – anyone know what a Sounder is?”
Former England Captain, Rio Ferdinand: “Get Eden Hazard through the middle behind Divock Origi please Marc Wilmots…”
Tom Rostance: “We’ve got a Mexican Wave in Salvador, but it’s a much better game than that may suggest. After that wave of Belgian pressure it’s the States who have control in midfield. DeAndre Yedlin whips in a great cross and Clint Dempsey attacks it but a Belgian head nips it away! There’s goals in this. Trust me…”
Pat Nevin: “You have to admire the USA’s work ethic. The effort and desire to get back and make tackles, they do not hold back. And they do not strike you generally as being dirty, just strong.”
Tom Rostance: “Dries Mertens wastes a good free-kick for Belgium and then hits a poor cross. He has impressed at stages of the World Cup but that was not up to scratch. Kevin Mirallas could be an option out there on the right.”
Danny Murphy: “USA should be really proud of how they have performed. It has been a really good team performance from them throughout the competition. I’m a little disappointed with a couple of the Belgium players. Dries Mertens has not done much down the right side and Marouane Fellaini has not broken into a sweat yet. He has hardly had a touch. He is not linking the play, or playing as a second striker as Kevin De Bruyne is doing that. Fellaini is better either really high up or just in front of the defence, protecting them. But at the moment he is not doing either.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Gary Welsh: Tom, a ‘Sounder’ is the nickname for those native to the ‘Puget Sound’, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.
David Morris: Feel sorry for Fabian Johnson. He has been one of the most impressive players of the tournament.
Tom Rostance: “Thanks Gary. I have officially learned something there.”
Tom Rostance: “Vincent Kompany goes into the book for clattering Clint Dempsey as the US continue to threaten out wide. DeAndre Yedlin may have a strange name but he can run all right. Forrest Gump would struggle to cover his runs down that right-hand side, and he almost finds Graham Zusi with a cut-back, but the Kansas man misses his kick.”
Pat Nevin: “All USA are trying to do is survive to half-time now. Yes they are playing well but eventually somebody will not cover their runner. Jurgen Klinsmann is shouting for his players to keep concentrating for a few more minutes.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
The White House: In America, we don’t settle. We out-hustle the competition. That’s who we are. Let’s do this!
Wayne Rooney: Have to admit I’m a USA fan today.
Tom Rostance: “Kevin De Bruyne hits an early shot at Tim Howard from 30 yards at the end of another swift counter. I’ve seen somebody call De Bruyne the Shermanator on Twitter and I just can’t get that image out of my head…Into added time. We’ve not had a first-half goal since Saturday…And we still haven’t. The goals have dried up as the pressure increases.”
Danny Murphy: “The space for USA is coming down their right-hand side where Jan Vertonghen is defending, but I feel a bit sorry for him as Eden Hazard is not coming back and not tracking his full-back. Vertonghen is good going forward but can struggle defensively in that left-back role, especially when he is left isolated.”
Pat Nevin: “Everything has been down the right for USA. DeAndre Yedlin is Eden Hazard’s nightmare. Hazard doesn’t often play against players his height, and against Yedlin he can’t take advantage of having a lower centre of gravity and turn him. For Belgium, Divock Origi is another with fantastic pace, but I’m still not sure about his final ball.”
2ND HALF KICK OFF!!! LET’S HOPE THIS LAST HALF OF THE MATCH STEPS UP ON ITS GAME.
Tom Rostance: “And we are under way…Marc Wilmots is wildly waving his arms around on the touchline, encouraging his men to (I think) keep their width and stretch the American defence. From the very next cross Dries Mertens loops in a header and Tim Howard has to turn it away for a corner, but it comes to nothing.”
Rio Ferdinand: “Belgium have the better players from the bench to make the difference, if it is close in the later stages. I can see USA’s players getting tired. Marouane Fellaini’s best position is off the front man. His best games in an Everton shirt came off the front man. He can play in midfield, but he is at his best when he is causing problems for the centre-halves.”
Pat Nevin: “Fantastic link-up play by Divock Origi in the build-up to Dries Mertens’ header. Of all the strikers available to Belgium, I think he has the best touch and he holds it up brilliantly.”
Tom Rostance: “Another poor cross from Dries Mertens, he’s really testing Danny Murphy’s patience now. Will Marc Wilmots make a change out on that right-hand side?”
Danny Murphy: “Dries Mertens has disappointed me. His end product has been poor.”
Tom Rostance: “It’s Marc Wilmots who is having his patience tested now as Marouane Fellaini decides to shoot from a good 35 yards, floating a tame effort wide when he had three men ahead of him. Got to do better big man…What a ball in! A dream cross from Jan Vertonghen, he arcs it inbetween the centre-halves and Tim Howard, but Kevin De Bruyne and Divock Origi both miss it on the stretch. Such a good delivery, but it’s all Belgium now. Surely, surely a Belgian goal is coming…Quality again, this time from the other full-back as Toby Alderweireld drifts over a cross and Divock Origi heads it against the top of the crossbar. Seconds later Jan Vertonghen tests Tim Howard with another low shot. What’s French for ‘we’re gonna score in a minute…?’
Danny Murphy: “What’s interesting is that when Belgium get forward, Marouane Fellaini moves to become a second striker, looking for the diagonal ball forward, but Belgium are not using him like that. He is moving off the centre-half, hoping for a pass, but they are not aiming for him. If he is in the team you have to play to his strengths.”
Tom Rostance: “Almost brilliant! Divock Origi beats three men inside the penalty area, goes to the outside and drills in a low cross which Dries Mertens flick into the side-netting. Inches away…”
Pat Nevin: “Belgium are getting closer. Down the right-hand side they are overloading DaMarcus Beasley, who is not getting any support from Alejandro Bedoya. So unlucky Divock Origi to hit the bar. Then for Jan Vertonghen’s strike the entirety of the audience here held their breath knowing he was going to take that on the volley. But it is so hard to keep those ones down.”
Tom Rostance: “Belgium’s subs have had a storming World Cup and here’s another one, as Kevin Mirallas replaces Dries Mertens. One-way traffic since the break but can the Everton man find the breakthrough?
Danny Murphy: “I don’t think that’s a bad substitution. I’m not sure Mertens has contributed enough. We know Kevin Mirallas from Everton, he has energy, is direct and can score goals.”
Tom Rostance: “Again Kevin De Bruyne fritters away a counter by coming inside and slowing it down. Wasteful. Into the last half hour and it’s opening up again.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Martin Lowe: I’m getting cynical about about the poor finishing in these knockout stages. It’s like everyone’s agreed to go to extra time.
Thomas Dolfi: What a volley from Jan Vertonghen! That would’ve been the goal of the tournament had it found the back of the net!
Tom Rostance: “It’s a flat back eight for USA now as they soak up the pressure, and soak it up well. Are they just starting to tire? The runs to close down when the ball goes out wide are starting to come slower and slower…”
Danny Murphy: “USA cannot keep the ball at the moment and they are looking tired. They need to get some possession to give themselves a breather.”
Pat Nevin: “The battling qualities of the USA players are second to none. They are not the most skilful side, in fact if they were to go through to the quarter-finals they would probably be the eighth-best of eight. But you still wouldn’t write them off because of how hard they work.”
Tom Rostance: “If Axel Witsel could shoot as accurately as Axel Foley, Belgium would be ahead. Another long spell of possession ends with the Zenit midfielder drilling wide from 20-odd yards. Into the last 20 we go. This is when Belgium have tended to score…”
Tom Rostance: “What a save again from Tim Howard! For the first time since the opening 40 seconds Belgium get right through the massed US defence as Eden Hazard beats two men and the ball runs on to Divock Origi – he has the whole goal to aim at but can’t beat the sprawling Howard. Great keeper, great moment for the US. But can they hang on?”
BBC Sport’s Ben Smith in Brazil: “The US are wilting under a barrage of Belgium attacks. In the stadium there is a real sense that it is a matter of when and not if Belgium get the goal their play in this second half has warranted. The US are clinging on and Jurgen Klinsmann is nowhere to be seen in his technical area. He is going to have to alter something.”
Tom Rostance: “And Jurgen Klinsmann does make a change. It’s Chris Wondolowski on for Graham Zusi.”
Pat Nevin: “The longer this goes on, with USA only getting the odd break because Clint Dempsey is not able to hold up the ball, it just gets harder and harder to play the way they are playing. Getting very little of the ball and always putting in last-ditch tackles is soul-destroying. I haven’t noticed any desperation coming from the Belgium players. They still believe they can do it. If they keep playing the way they are playing they will continue to get chances and the likelihood will be they score. For me, USA have got to score first or they will go out, but they are hanging on by their fingernails.”
Danny Murphy: “That was a great save from Tim Howard. But after his excellent run, it was a clear sight of goal for Divock Origi and he should’ve done better. He just scuffed it into the ground, it was not a clean strike and he will be disappointed with that.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Sola Akingbola: USA backs to the wall. Divock Origi looks a real talent. I can see why Romelu Lukaku is on the bench.
Tom Rostance: “FIFTEEN to go then. Are we on for more extra time? It’s the theme of this World Cup. Best group stage ever, goals drying up when it counts. This is the first time in history that two Everton players have come up against each other in a World Cup match – and Tim Howard has just denied fellow Toffee Kevin Mirallas the opener. It’s the move of the match, Eden Hazard finding Divock Origi, he flips it round the corner for Mirallas, onside, but he can’t beat super Tim Howard…”
Danny Murphy: “A brilliant save from Tim Howard. That was the first time in the match where Eden Hazard tracked back and won a tackle. He gave it to Mirallas, who tried to slide it down the side of Howard, but what a save from the American.”
Tom Rostance: “Dear oh dear that looks nasty! United States defender Omar Gonzalez lands with his ankle at a right-angle but after a brief bit of treatment he appears to be OK. In slow motion that looked sickening…”
Pat Nevin: “Again Divock Origi’s play was brilliant, in fact it was a superb break in which everything was perfect. Except Tim Howard just got a toe to Kevin Mirallas’ shot and and put it behind. Living dangerously is an understatement. USA are on the edge. But oddly enough they have been passing it better since making that change in midfield.”
Tom Rostance: “Tim Howard will get a medal from Barack himself if the States get through – yet another save keeps out Eden Hazard. Hazard scuffed his shot but it was flying in…”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Mitch H Mansfield: Can’t help but wonder if Jurgen Klinsmann might regret leaving Landon Donovan at home – could’ve done with his energy and experience here.
Danny Murphy: “You feel Belgium are getting on top of USA and are creating the better chances. Kevin Mirallas has made a big difference for Belgium and he has already done more than Dries Mertens.”
Rio Ferdinand: “Divock Origi has six caps and really looks at home at the World Cup. Love seeing young players play like this.”
Tom Rostance: “Our man DeAndre Yedlin has had a stormer. One minute he is putting in a dangerous cross, seconds later he tracks back and strips Eden Hazard of the ball with a proper slide tackle. Seven minutes remain…”
Gary Lineker: “I wonder if America is beginning to understand that sport without goals/points/runs can be gut-wrenchingly exciting!”
Tom Rostance: “Brilliant defending from US centre-back Matt Besler as he shuts out another opening. Besler is so popular for his team Sporting Kansas City that when fans got hold of the present list for his wedding to Amanda in December, they bought every remaining item between them. Nice touch…”
Pat Nevin: “USA have just had another extra little bit of lift. DeAndre Yedlin is tearing down the right again. And Tim Howard has had a brilliant game tonight, he looks a sure thing for the man of the match award.”
LESS THAN 5 MINUTES TO GO, AND NOT A SINGLE GOAL SCORED, LET’S HOPE EITHER TEAM SCORE BEFORE FULL TIME.
Tom Rostance: “Another save from Tim Howard, turning away Divock Origi’s rising drive. Howard is on for throwing the first pitch of the baseball season, ringing in New Year in Times Square and carrying Floyd Mayweather’s belts into the ring…”
Danny Murphy: “What a tackle from Besler. USA have a never-say-die attitude and it is admirable. The players are certainly playing for their manager and their country, but they do look tired. They have to maintain their shape and their concentration. I’m amazed Marouane Fellaini is still on the pitch for Belgium. All he has done is have a couple of knock downs, but they have players like Adnan Januzaj and Mousa Dembele on the bench, who will offer something different.”
Pat Nevin: “Marc Wilmots the Belgium manager is suffering with every chance his side don’t take. You can see the fear etched on his face. It will be hard for him to live with Belgium not winning this match.”
Tom Rostance: “Chance! Kevin De Bruyne finds Eden hazard in the area but for once Tim Howard doesn’t have to make the save as Hazard ripples the side-netting with his left foot. Got to go far post…”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Christopher Campbell: There hasn’t been a goal scored as yet but the entertainment value is second to none! Great effort from both teams.
Jon Walters: This game is crying out for Adnan Januzai to tear it up whilst there are tired legs out there.
INJURY TIME +3
Tom Rostance: “What a save again! Complete mishit from Vincent Kompany but he has ran the whole length of the field to meet Kevin De Bruyne’s cross and it is going in until Tim Howard makes another diving save.”
Danny Murphy: “Eden Hazard has to pull it back. It’s on his left foot and he is running away from goal. That was a bad decision from Hazard and I don’t believe he thinks he can score. It’s either tiredness or greed. A player of his quality has to do better there.”
Tom Rostance: “Marouane Fellaini! If there’s one thing he should be doing, it’s heading in from three yards out. But he doesn’t. We have THREE minutes added on…Tim Howard – human wall.”
Pat Nevin: “It wasn’t Vincent Kompany’s fault, the ball was played half a yard behind him. Play it in front of him and that would have been of the great goals of the World Cup.”
Danny Murphy: “For the USA to keep going and keep getting the blocks in shows a fantastic attitude and desire to win.”
Tom Rostance: “Chris Wondolowski misses an incredible chance for the United States! Six yards out and he shanks it over the top, a horrible finish! The offside flag momentarily rescues his blushes, but the replays show he was miles onside…”
FULL TIME, THANK YOU FOR VIEWING THIS BLOG FEED AS THE MATCH UNFOLDED, MAKE SURE TO CHECK BACK IN A FEW MINUTES FOR A BLOG POST BASED ON THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MATCH EARLIER BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND SWITZERLAND.
THANK YOU FOR VIEWING THIS BLOG FEED :-).