|USA players in a tussle with Belgiumís Dries Mertens, in Salvador, on Tuesday. (AFP)
Salvador: Tim Howard denied Divock Origi inside a minute and USA held firm against Belgium despite losing right back Fabian Johnson to injury in a goalless first half in their World Cup pre-quarters clash on Tuesday.
Howard blocked Origi’s clean strike after 40 seconds as Belgium made a rapid start, but the USA goalkeeper was otherwise untroubled.
Kevin De Bruyne wasted his side’s best other chance with a wasteful shot wide.
Clint Dempsey’s shot was saved low down by Thibaut Courtois as the USA worked a good opening midway through the half, but they then lost Johnson to a leg injury.
USA missed another chance late in the first half, in the 41 st minute, when Bradley’s superb essay to a sprinting Yedlin saw him run ahead. He cut back to Zusi but the forward mishit completely.
In the 36 th minute, De Bruyne sprinted down the right and passed it to Eden Hazard. The Chelsea man steadied himself before striking towards goal, but the USA defence rose to the occasion and it did not trouble the goalkeeper.
It was an entertainingly open first half, with both sides trading counter-attacks. With the final quarter-final spot up for grabs, honours were even in the first 45 minutes. USA had 49 per cent of the ball possession as opposed to 51 per cent by their opponents.
Meanwhile, a lone protester, wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Save Favelas Children’, interrupted the match.
The game was temporarily halted in the first half by referee Djamel Haimoudi when the man ran onto the Arena Fonte Nova pitch here and spent more than a minute walking around the field.
Security staff initially made no attempt to stop the pitch invader before they eventually ran on and apprehended him.
The intruder high-fived Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne who then pointed him in the direction of the tunnel and the arriving security staff. (Agencies)