Tim Howard hails Everton teammate Romelu Lukaku after US loss: ‘Big Rom changed the game’

The standout US goalie was eventually beaten by his club teammate in Belgium's 2-1 win on Tuesday, leading Howard to call him 'a handful'.

Tim Howard and Romelu Lukaku embrace following the Lukaku and Belgium's win over Howard and the United States on Tuesday at the 2014 World Cup round of 16. Natacha Pisarenko / AP
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United States goalkeeper Tim Howard said Everton teammate Romelu Lukaku proved decisive as the Americans' World Cup run came to an end against Belgium in the last 16 in Salvador on Tuesday.
Lukaku, on loan at Goodison Park last season from Chelsea, scored one goal and set up another as Belgium sealed a 2-1 win after a rousing extra-time battle with the United States.
"They brought big Rom on and he was a handful, he ran at us, scored a goal, created chances for other guys," said Howard. "Big Rom changed the game."
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Howard had kept the Americans in the contest throughout the first 90 minutes, pulling of a series of superb saves to prevent Belgium from converting their dominance into a comfortable victory.
And even after going 2-0 down in extra-time, the US pulled a goal back through 19-year-old Julian Green to set up a nervy finale which saw Clint Dempsey almost grab what would have been a sensational equaliser from a clever free-kick routine.
"It's heartbreaking, I don't think we could have given any more," Howard said.
"We left it all out there. We got beaten by a really good team. They took their chances well. It's heartache, it hurts."
Asked about his goalkeeping heroics, Howard replied: "That's my job, that's what I'm signed up to do. It's part of it in these big games."
He acknowledged that United States had struggled to keep Belgium at bay for so long.
"The levee's going to break at some point, if you continue like that," he said. "But hats off to Belgium. They were fantastic."
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