Angel Di Maria struck with two minutes of the extra period
remaining to give Argentina a 1-0 win over stubborn Switzerland, who
still had time to hit the post amid unbearable tension in Sao Paulo.
Belgium took a 2-0 extra-time lead through Kevin De Bruyne and
Romelu Lukaku but, after Julian Green pulled one back, they had to
survive an extraordinary end-to-end finale as the U.S. threatened an
equalizer before winning 2-1.
"Football is brutal, brutal, brutal. Unfortunately, we didn't quite
have enough strength at the end to get through extra time,"
Switzerland's assistant coach Michel Pont told reporters as the
tournament continued to surpass itself for drama and emotion.
Argentina and Belgium will meet in Brasilia on Saturday (1600 GMT)
after completing a quarter-final line-up which will feature all
eight group-stage winners with four teams each from Europe and Latin
Hosts Brazil face Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday (2000), preceded
by France against Germany in Rio de Janeiro (1600) and the
Netherlands take on rank outsiders Costa Rica in Salvador on
The Dutch, runners-up four years ago, will almost certainly be
without hard-tackling midfielder Nigel de Jong for the rest of the
tournament after he was ruled out for two to four weeks with a groin
Off the field, Cameroon's football federation (FECAFOOT) said it
would investigate claims that seven players were involved in
match-fixing at the World Cup, centered on the 4-0 defeat by Croatia
when Alex Song was sent off in the first half.
“Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s three 2014 World Cup
games, especially Cameroon v Croatia, as well the existence of
“seven bad apples (in our national team)” do not reflect the values
and principles promoted by our administration," FECAFOOT said in a
The allegations against Cameroon came from convicted fraudster
Wilson Raj Perumal, who it emerged during a discussion with German
magazine Der Spiegel had accurately forecast the result and the fact
that a player would be sent off
Twice champions Argentina dominated the last-16 game against
Switzerland but their attacks lacked variety and too often ended
with hopeful crosses into the penalty area.
Switzerland were expertly marshaled by veteran coach Ottmar Hitzfeld
who had already announced that he would retire after the tournament.
With penalties looming, Angel Di Maria stroked the ball home from
the edge of penalty area to put the finishing touch to a trademark
Lionel Messi run, sparking wild celebrations among the South
American team and their fans in Sao Paulo.
The celebrations nearly proved premature when Swiss substitute
Blerim Dzemaili headed against the post from point-blank range and
the ball rebounded on to his knee and went centimeters past the
[to top of second column]
With goalkeeper Diego Benaglio joining the attack, Switzerland won a
free kick on the edge of the area but, amid extraordinary tension
and with Argentine substitutes praying on the bench, Xherdan Shaqiri
sent his effort into the defensive wall
“It was a game that we deserved to win in 90 minutes,” Argentina
coach Alejandro Sabella told reporters.
“It was even during a first half in which they had two clear chances
to score, but in the second half we were clearly superior, we had
five or six shots at goal and in extra time we also had more
Belgium dominated normal time and were frustrated by an inspired Tim
Howard in the U.S. goal but struck early in extra-time when De
Bruyne collected the ball before turning and firing home an angled
shot from seven meters.
Substitute striker Lukaku powered home a second on 105 minutes after
a clever De Bruyne pass before Green's volley at the start of the
second period set up a pulsating finale in which Clint Dempsey
almost sneaked an equalizer.
The U.S. could have sealed it at the end of normal time but
substitute Chris Wondolowski skewed his effort horribly wide from
"We had about 15 chances, we were controlling the game I think it is
largely deserved even though at the end we conceded one," Belgium
coach Marc Wilmots told reporters.
Howard felt heart-broken to lose.
"We left it all out there but we lost to a really good team. It
hurts but hats off to Belgium they were fantastic," he said.
(Additional reporting by Mark Gleeson in Salvador, Editing by Ed
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