Argentina, Belgium through after extra-time drama

Tue Jul 1, 2014 8:26pm EDT
 
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By Brian Homewood

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Argentina scored in the 118th minute to beat Switzerland and Belgium clung on to defeat the United States in another heart-stopping period of extra time to reach the World Cup quarter-finals amid more extraordinary drama on Tuesday.

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 America.

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 Saturday (2000).

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 injury.

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.   Continued...

 
Argentina's Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria (7) and Lucas Biglia (C) celebrate after extra time in the 2014 World Cup round of 16 game between Argentina and Switzerland at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo July 1, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh