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Mirallas Through Despite Howard Heroics

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

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A heroic performance from goalkeeper Tim Howard wasn't enough to stop Kevin Mirallas winning the battle of the Blues as Belgium edged through to the World Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over the USA.

The Toffees stopper made 15 saves - more than any goalkeeper in any World Cup match since records began in 1966 - as again and again he thwarted the Red Devils.

But extra-time goals from Kevin de Bruyne and former Everton loanee Romelu Lukaku broke US hearts and fired Belgium to a last-eight meeting with Argentina.  

Howard started in Salvador, but it wasn't until the hour-mark that he was joined on the pitch by Goodison cohort Mirallas.

By that stage, America's No.1 had already frustrated a number of Mirallas' Belgium colleagues and was soon sticking out a leg to deny his club mate with an instinctive stop.

As the tension rose, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen and Divock Origi similarly failed to find a way past the 35-year-old, before he acrobatically pawed away an improvised effort from Vincent Kompany with just seconds of normal time remaining.

However, it took Belgium just three minutes of the added 30 to find the breakthrough they needed as Lukaku - on only moments as a substitute - burst down the right and teed up De Bruyne to sweep low into the bottom corner.

Howard then turned away efforts from both Mirallas and Lukaku, but finally fell to the latter when the striker fired home to double his nation's advantage with 15 minutes to go.

The drama didn't stop there, and winger Julian Green created a tense finish by hooking in just two minutes later.

But Belgium held on and can now look forward to tackling Lionel Messi and Co in Brasilia on Saturday.

Mirallas is now Everton's last remaining representative at the 2014 World Cup.

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