USA goalkeeper Tim Howard said Romelu Lukaku proved decisive as the Americans' fairytale FIFA World Cup™ run came to an end against Belgium in the Round of 16.
Lukaku, on loan at Everton last season from Chelsea, scored one goal and helped set up another as the Red Devils sealed a 2-1 win after a thrilling extra time battle with the Stars and Stripes.
"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."
Howard had kept the Americans in the contest throughout the first 90 minutes, pulling off a series of superb saves to prevent Belgium from converting their dominance into a comfortable victory.
Even after going 2-0 down in extra time, USA pulled a goal back through teenager 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," said Howard. "We left it all out there. We got beaten by a really good team. They took their chances well. It's heartache, it hurts. But hats off to Belgium, they were fantastic."