SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Romelu Lukaku had a point to prove at the World Cup.
After Belgium missed countless chances during the 90 minutes of regulation time in the second-round match against the United States on Tuesday, the powerful striker came off the bench and soon set up the opening goal for Kevin De Bruyne.
As the U.S. pressed for an equalizer, De Bruyne swiftly returned the favor to Lukaku, who made it 2-0.
Despite scoring key goals in World Cup qualifying, Lukaku had a disappointing start in the group matches and was dropped from the starting lineup.
"The media tried to take Romelu down after the first round, but I was convinced that he would still be able to make the difference at this World Cup," Belgian coach Marc Wilmots said after his team secured a spot in the quarterfinals.
Wilmots was the one who went looking for an alternative to Lukaku.
He brought in the 19-year-old Divock Origi, who scored the winner against Russia and provided the shot which allowed Jan Vertonghen to tap in the winner against South Korea.
Origi started against the United States, but missed several scoring chances before he was replaced by Lukaku.
"I realized I should not put too much pressure on myself and just do everything needed to make the team win," Lukaku said. "And it makes me so happy that this is the way it went today."