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World Cup Blog: Last 16 recap

USA goalkeeper Tim Howard looks to the heavens after defeat against Belgium (pic: Nick Potts/EMPICS) USA goalkeeper Tim Howard looks to the heavens after defeat against Belgium (pic: Nick Potts/EMPICS)

Mike Hiden
Thursday, July 3, 2014
7:00 AM

Sympathy for brave Americans

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After a tense, nail-biting, emphatic and at times frustrating four days of action ncomes to an end, so does the second round of the World Cup as 16 become eight.

The round of 16 has provided us with 18 goals, two penalty shoot-outs and as most will probably agree, a soft spot and new found respect for the USA.

In a World Cup where records are broken and history is made on almost a game-by-game basis, the round of 16 proved to be no different.

For the first time in its current format, all eight winners from the group stage have made it through following Belgium’s victory over the USA.

Social media has become a big part of this tournament and Twitter subsequently broke another record when Brazil took on Chile in the first knockout game.

A staggering 16.4 million tweets were sent through the game with 388,985 tweets sent during the shoot-out when Gonzalo Jara missed for Chile – making it the most tweeted about event in the history of social media.

Brazil has shown moments of greatness during their run to the last 16 and there were flashes against Chile.

They may consider themselves fortunate to scrape through as the weight of expectation from the home support seems to be getting to some of the squad.

Neymar has been their saving grace thus far and some questionable defending could have cost them dear against Chile who boast the attacking prowess of Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez.

A poor shoot-out saw the hosts through and spared their blushes although they will need to raise their game in the quarter-finals.

There was diving controversy once more following the Netherlands’ last-gasp win over Mexico, as Arjen Robben won a penalty which Klass-Jan Huntelaar converted to break Mexican hearts.

But we can not discuss the knockout stages without mentioning the USA – the side every England fan seemed to get behind following the disappointingly early exit of Roy Hodgson’s young Lions.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad captured the imagination of most World Cup fans with their spirit and never-say-die attitude.

Their slogan may be ‘One Nation. One Team’ but their support clearly surpassed that of just their own nation then they met Belgium for a place in the last eight.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who proved that he may be the direct descendant of a seemingly impenetrable wall, produced an astonishing 15 saves – a World Cup record.

But his efforts came in a 2-1 defeat as the Americans also headed home.

The last 16 did not disappoint, though, and there are more mouthwatering ties lying in wait for football fans.

Here’s to the quarter finals.

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