Howard, the wall, finally breached
"TWO words... TIM HOWARD #respect," was the simple Twitter comment made by Belgium's captain, Vincent Kompany, within minutes of his country finally beating the United States in the last 16 on Tuesday.
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku, who hit the winning goal, and Dries Mertens both hugged Howard at the end of their 120-minute onslaught on the 35-year-old Everton goalkeeper.
Howard's 16 saves - some at point-blank range, two spectacularly flicked over the crossbar - were a record for a goalkeeper in a World Cup match since 1966.
The US defence seemed unable to resist the Belgian attack of Mertens, Divock Origi and Eden Hazard.
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Howard kept the team in the game right to the end. The Americans had chances to equalise right until the final seconds.
"How Tim played tonight was just phenomenal," Klinsmann said. "As the game went on, on the back of Tim's performance, we got back in the game."
Howard was finally beaten by Kevin De Bruyne's angled drive after good work from substitute Lukaku and De Bruyne then returned the favour to allow Lukaku to slam past his Everton teammate Howard.
Origi was then presented with another great chance after a fine run by substitute Kevin Mirallas, but again his low effort was beaten away by Howard. The Everton keeper's best stop was to come though, as he again used his legs to prevent club teammate Mirallas from slotting home 14 minutes from time.
He continued his one-man resistance by parrying another low effort from Hazard and then turning over a pildedriver from Origi.
Lukaku was introduced for Origi at the beginning of extra-time and made an immediate impact as he teed up De Bruyne to finally slot past the outstretched leg of Howard.
The keeper continued to keep his side in the game with three more fine stops, but was eventually beaten for a second time when Lukaku thumped home De Bruyne's through ball.
America were given a lifeline two minutes into the second period, though, as Green turned home Michael Bradley's chipped pass. And they twice came desperately close to taking the game to penalties as Jones fired inches wide before Courtois smothered from Dempsey to book Belgium's place in the last eight.