Belgium, having won both their first two group games, needed just a point to go through as group winners so would Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj, Kevin Mirallas and the rest put on a show against South Korea?
Elsewhere Tim Howard was charged with keeping Mesut Ozil and his Germany team-mates out while Nani was hoping to inspire Portugal and Nabil Bentaleb featured as Algeria closed out Group H against Russia.
Goal rounds up how they, and the rest of the Premier League stars in action on day 15, got on...
|MESUT OZIL & LUKAS PODOLSKI
The two Arsenal stars were named in Joachim Low's starting XI as Germany looked to make sure of their place in the knockout stages of the World Cup as group winners by avoiding defeat against USA.
It proved to be a frustrating afternoon for Podolski, however, with the 29-year-old hooked at half-time having struggled to get into the game in his position on the left side of Germany's attack.
Ozil's performance was far more promising, though, and he looked capable of creating something whenever he had the ball at his feet. Indeed, the former Real Madrid man was involved in the winning goal, as his cross for Per Mertesacker was eventually turned in by Thomas Muller.
|PER MERTESACKER & TIM HOWARD
Mertesacker was given a further opportunity to develop his understanding with central defensive partner Mats Hummels against USA and, while Jurgen Klinsmann's side were hardly an attacking juggernaut, the Arsenal defender still had to be on his toes to ensure Germany kept a cleansheet.
And the Arsenal defender caused problems at the other end too, with his glancing header, from an Ozil cross, well saved by Howard before Muller crashed the rebound into the corner of the net.
As for Everton goalkeeper Howard, he could do little about Muller's terrific winning goal but he was a reliable presence over the 90 minutes and kept the score down to ensure USA would reach the knockout phase despite suffering defeat.
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Some wayward shooting only added to a disappointing first half showing, but with a free role after the break he was able to have more influence and link-up effectively with captain Ronaldo.
Asamoah Gyan's equaliser proved the catalyst to a period of pressure for Ghana, and only when Nani's high cross caused confusion in the box and helped create the eventual winner for Ronaldo did he again become a pivotal figure in the match.
Some delightful balls into the box allowed Ronaldo to try his luck on numerous occasions in the closing stages, but neither could do anything to stop Paulo Bento's side from being eliminated.
|THIBAUT COURTOIS & JAN VERTONGHEN
Despite the fact Belgium coach Marc Wilmots rang the changes for the clash with South Korea, the early exchanges suggested that Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois would be set for a fairly quiet evening - it proved anything but.
The 22-year-old, who will return to Stamford Bridge after the World Cup, had to be alert on numerous occasions to keep the South Koreans out and he never looked like being beaten, even as one looping cross-shot crashed against his crossbar, as he kept a cleansheet.
Tottenham defender Vertonghen, meanwhile, was the hero of the evening as he followed up to slot home the winning goal and generally looked solid at the back as Belgium soaked up plenty of South Korea pressure having gone down to 10 men.
|MOUSA DEMBELE & MAROUANE FELLAINI
Comfortable on the ball and attempting to drive forward whenever possible, Dembele had a solid if unspectacular evening for Belgium although his night was made all the more difficult when Steven Defour was given his marching orders just before half-time.
With Defour, before his sending off, and Dembele alongside him, Fellaini, meanwhile, was again given more license to get forward and support the front players and as well as being tidy in possession for the most part, he won his fair share of headers in and around the box.
|ADNAN JANUZAJ & KEVIN MIRALLAS
Making his first World Cup appearance, Manchester United starlet Januzaj struggled to have a real impact in the game in his position on the right flank and he wasn't able to get into many advanced crossing or shooting positions often enough. His replacement, Nacer Chadli, didn't fare much better after coming on on the hour mark.
There was also a start for Everton forward Kevin Mirallas and, certainly in the first half before Belgium went down to 10 men, he, along with Dries Mertens, looked the most likely to make something happen. Was eventually replaced by Eden Hazard late on but will have given Wilmots food for thought.
|KI SUNG-YONG & NABIL BENTALEB
It proved to be a disappointing evening for Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-Yong despite him arguably being South Korea's best player on the night as his side crashed out of the World Cup following defeat to Belgium.
The former Celtic star tested Courtois from range on a couple of occasions and generally sprayed the ball around well in central areas to keep his side in the game in Thursday's final Group H encounter.
As for Tottenham starlet Nabil Bentaleb, his incredible rise goes on. The 19-year-old, who burst onto the scene at White Hart Lane last season, has the best passing stats of the first half against Russia and looked composed on the ball throughout as Algeria made history to reach the last 16.