Argentina, Belgium progress

Argentina and Belgium have completed the line-up for the World Cup quarter finals, following their last-16 wins over, respectively, Switzerland and USA.

Both ties went to extra-time, the fourth and fifth knockout matches to do so, with Angel Di Maria scoring a late winner for the Argentines and Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku netting for Marc Wilmots’ charges.

USA pulled a goal back through Julian Green and then pushed for an equaliser in an entertainingly frantic conclusion to the extra 30 minutes.

World Cup quarter finals

Brazil v Colombia
France v Germany
Holland v Costa Rica
Argentina v Belgium

The day’s first game, in Sao Paulo, was a largely disappointing encounter which only came to life once the threat of penalties loomed.

Ottmar Hitzfeld set his Switzerland side up to frustrate the two-time world champions and, although the South Americans dominated possession, they were unable to fashion too many clear cut chances.

Ironically, the best chance of the first half actually fell to the Swiss when Sergio Romero parried Granit Xhaka’s low shot, following Xherdan Shaqiri’s cut back, and then recovered well to block Stephan Lichtsteiner’s rebound.

The second half belonged to Alejandro Sabella’s side, though only Lionel Messi looked likely to break the deadlock, plundering a volley just over the top and then calling Diego Benaglio into action to push away a low effort.

The tie was decided in the final two minutes of extra-time – and Messi was the orchestrator, running at the Switzerland defence before laying the ball off to Di Maria who curled home first time into the far corner.

There was still time for Switzerland’s Blerim Dzemaili to head against the foot of the Argentina post and inadvertently nudge the rebound wide.

It was a sad end to Hitzfeld’s time in the dugout as he will now retire from management.

Argentina will face Belgium in Brasilia in the last eight on Saturday, after their narrow win over Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA.

The Belgians were on top for the majority of the match, forcing Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard into a number of good saves, while young striker Divock Origi clipped the crossbar.

Belgium eventually took the lead in the third minute of extra-time, with substitute Lukaku setting up De Bruyne to find the bottom corner with an angled drive.

Lukaku added a second just before the break to seemingly put the game to bed, but, after being forced to defend for large parts, remarkably, the Americans rallied.

Green halved the deficit, Jermaine Jones poked a shot agonisingly wide and Clint Dempsey was foiled by Thibaut Courtois following a clever free-kick, but USA could not find an equaliser their extra-time endeavour probably deserved.

And so for the first ever time, all eight group winners will now face off in the quarter final.