Cristiano Ronaldo gave Portugal a 2-1 victory over Ghana, but both teams go out due to superior USA goal difference.
Both teams had scraped just one point in the group so far and knew a draw between Germany and USA would render any result here irrelevant. Fabio Coentrao, Hugo Almeida, Andre Almeida and Helder Postiga were sidelined, but Pepe returned from suspension. Ghana sent home Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari yesterday after reports of a fight in the training camp.
Cristiano Ronaldo was yet to score in the World Cup and went very close after five minutes, his cross-shot thumping the bar from a very tight angle.
The FIFA World Player of the Year tested Fatawu Dauda with one of his trademark free kicks, but really should’ve scored on 18 minutes. The Real Madrid star had a free header on Pereira’s cross, but aimed it straight at the goalkeeper from six yards.
Asamoah Gyan had a great chance to give Ghana the lead when getting on the end of a ball over the top, his half-volley parried by Beto’s legs.
Portugal did take the lead thanks to a spectacular own goal. John Boye’s attempt at a clearance on Miguel Veloso’s cross only looped over his head into the far top corner, completely the opposite direction to the one he was aiming for.
Ronaldo tried to add insult to injury moments later, but Dauda beat away the snapshot, then Christian Atsu curled just off target. Incredibly, Boye almost repeated the trick in first half stoppages, this time ballooning over the bar.
Ex-Udinese forward Gyan skimmed the woodwork after the restart and Nani’s attempt was beaten away, but Ghana did draw level.
Juventus wing-back Kwadwo Asamoah whipped in a cross from the left for Gyan’s header at the back post. It was his sixth World Cup goal, making him the highest scoring African player in the history of the competition.
It should’ve been 2-1 to Ghana soon after, but Waris incredibly turned a free header wide from six yards. Ronaldo also had penalty appeals for a Boye shove waved away.
Ronaldo finally got his first goal of this World Cup, but only thanks to a disastrous howler from goalkeeper Dauda. Having saved numerous earlier chances, the shot-stopper flapped horribly at a cross and left Ronaldo with an open goal to aim at from seven yards.
Dauda made up for it moments later, parrying Ronaldo’s shot from point-blank range and Varela’s effort too.
Time ticked on and Portugal realised they weren’t going to be able to make up the goal difference, even with USA losing 1-0 to Germany. They also lost goalkeeper Beto to injury, while Ronaldo volleyed inches over on a Nani cross and then forced Dauda into another save.
Portugal 2-1 Ghana
Scorers: Boye og 31 (P), Gyan 56 (G), Ronaldo 80 (P)
Portugal: Beto (Eduardo 89); Pereira (Varela 62), Alves, Pepe, Veloso; Moutinho, Carvalho, Amorim; Nani, Eder (Vieirinha 70), Ronaldo
Ghana: Dauda; Afful, Mensah, Boye, Asamoah; Rabiu (Acquah 76), Badu; Atsu, A Ayew (Wakaso 82), Waris (J Ayew 71); Gyan
Ref: Shukralla (BHR)