We've seen penalties. We've seen extra time. We've seen golazos. We've generally seen the favorites prevail. And boy, have we seen drama.
That certainly didn't change on Tuesday. With the final two berths in the quarterfinals remaining, there was more drama to be had. Below, we'll take a look back at the day's results, goalscorers and update the Golden Boot watch from the 2014 World Cup.
|Team 1||Result||Team 2|
Golden Boot Watch
|World Cup Goalscorers|
|Robin van Persie||Netherlands||3|
|Clint Dempsey||United States||2|
|Wilfried Bony||Ivory Coast||2|
|Bryan Ruiz||Costa Rica||2|
|Angel Di Maria||Argentina||1|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Belgium||1|
|Julian Green||United States||1|
|Avdija Vrsajevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Lee Keun-Ho||South Korea||1|
|Joel Campbell||Costa Rica||1|
|Oscar Duarte||Costa Rica||1|
|Marcos Urena||Costa Rica||1|
|Stefan de Vrij||Netherlands||1|
|Vedad Ibisevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|John Anthony Brooks||United States||1|
|Edin Dzeko||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Miralem Pjanic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Son Heung Min||South Korea||1|
|Koo Jacheol||South Korea||1|
|Jermaine Jones||United States||1|
|Giovani dos Santos||Mexico||1|
|Tuesday scorers highlighted|
For 90 minutes, Tim Howard made more saves than Dennis Eckersley. For the 15 minutes after that, Belgium looked as though they had finally cracked the code and deflated the United States. And in the final 15 minutes, youngster Julian Green scored a goal on his first World Cup touch and the Americans came oh so close to forcing penalties.
But it wasn't to be. Belgium won, 2-1, behind goals from Kevin De Bruyne—who on most evenings would have been the deserving Man of the Match—and Romelu Lukaku. Still, all the credit in the world has to go to Howard, who kept the United States in the match behind a historically good performance.
From Paul Carr of ESPN:
But back to the goals. Lukaku injected so much energy on the attack when he came into the game, including setting up the first in extra time. Check it out, via ESPN FC:
He would score the second as well, and that appeared to be the dagger.
Ah, but Green was having none of it. His first World Cup goal was a beauty, as you can see here:
The United States nearly scored an equaliser—and heck, the game might not have gone into extra time had Chris Wondolowski put away a sitter in regulation—but they couldn't quite pull off the feat. A comeback would have been truly amazing; their effort was worth applauding.
What a game. What a run for the United States. Americans can take great pride in their team today, even in defeat.
Of course, The Argentina vs. Switzerland match that preceded Belgium's close call was pretty darn compelling, too.
You can execute your game plan perfectly for 90 minutes. Just ask Iran. Heck, you can execute it perfectly for 117 minutes. Just ask Switzerland.
But when you are playing Argentina and Lionel Messi, well, a few seconds can be lethal. And once again, it was the man who plays like poets write who played the leading role, as his run and assist to Angel Di Maria in extra time was the difference for Argentina in their 1-0 win over Switzerland.
Watch for yourselves, via ESPN FC:
Messi still probably needs to win a World Cup to escape Maradona's shadow, fair or not. But as Marc Stein of ESPN notes, nobody can say that he didn't bring his A-game to Brazil:
But much of this game was a cagey affair, highlighted by Switzerland's strong defensive play and the excellent form of 'keeper Diego Benaglio. He made several huge saves, but one of his best was this gem against Messi in the 87th minute, via ESPN FC:
Messi didn't get his goal in this one, no. But he's moving on, and he remains a favorite in the Golden Boot race.
That's a race currently led by James Rodriguez, who has been simply superb thus far in the tournament. Nipping at his heels are Messi, Neymar and Thomas Muller, while Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Karim Benzema seem likely to have their say in the competition.
Few players are facing more pressure than Neymar, but if you think any of that pressure stems from some need or desire to be the top scorer in this tournament, think again.
"I don't want to be the best player, I don't want to be the top scorer," Neymar told the Associated Press, via the Times of India.
"All I want is to win the World Cup title. It's what I always dreamed about. It doesn't matter how it happens, I just want to win the title."
Brazil are going to have one heck of a journey to get there, however. Next up is Colombia, one of the hottest teams in this tournament, and should they win that match, the winner of Germany vs. France beckons.
For a team that hasn't looked overly convincing thus far, that's a tough road to reach the finals.
But to win the World Cup, you have to beat the best. With so many top scorers and elite talents still in the running, the Golden Boot race remains truly intriguing.
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