Chelsea FC’s Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Thibaut Courtois crashed out of the World Cup as a subdued Belgium fell to Argentina in the quarterfinals. The difference in the match was an eighth minute goal from Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain that was well taken if not a bit fortunate. The strike came courtesy of a deflection off Jan Vertonghen but Higuain showed his goalscoring instincts as he blasted it first time past Thibaut Courtois. The creation of the goal however came courtesy of the quality Argentina possess in midfield in their little maestro Lionel Messi.
The early goal was enough for Argentina to decide to pack it in and drop in to two banks of four every time they lost possession. Belgium’s collection of fine attacking talent was unable to put a good move together and they only managed one shot on target in the first half. The Red Devils had other chances courtesy of Vertonghen and Kevin De Bruyne but they could not break down a stubborn Argentina defense.
The second half was a largely dull affair and the Belgians showed intent but simply could not string enough passes together to really threaten Sergio Romero’s goal. Higuain was again the danger man for Argentina as he saw a deflected shot go just wide of the post with Courtois left helpless. The Napoli striker also made a tremendous run from midfield and nutmegged Vincent Kompany at full speed but should have done with the final product as his shot caromed off the crossbar and out of play. Romelu Lukaku was brought on in the 59th minute for Divack Origi but he could not impact the match the way he did against the United States.
In the dying minutes of the match Belgium went route one and sent their tallest players in to the box to try and use their physicality in search of an equalizer. Eden Hazard was ineffective for much of the match and was subbed off in favor of the taller Nacer Chadli as Marc Wilmots went all in on the route one approach.
Messi had a chance to kill the match off for good but the tremendous Courtois made a fine save to keep Belgium’s hopes alive. Unfortunately for the Chelsea Belgian contingent they could not find the breakthrough and instead will spend the rest of the summer wondering what could have been had they showed a little more of their quality against the Argentines.
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