BRASILIA — Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first goal of the tournament as Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in Brasilia yesterday, but both teams were eliminated from the World Cup football finals as the United States held on to second place in Group G despite their defeat by Germany.
Starting the day on a point each, both teams knew they needed a victory to have any chance of progress and Portugal started strongly as Ronaldo hit the bar and sent a close-range header straight at goalkeeper Fatau Dauda before Ghana’s John Boye sliced a cross into his own net after 31 minutes.
Asamoah Gyan headed the equaliser from a lovely Kwadwo Asamoah cross 12 minutes into the second half and Abdul Majeed Waris missed the chance to put Ghana ahead when he headed wide from point-blank range five minutes later.
Ronaldo finally found the net in the 80th minute but Portugal, thrashed 4-0 by Germany in their opening game, needed a far bigger win to overhaul the Americans’ goal difference.
Germany topped the group with seven points after beating USA 1-0 and play the Group H runners-up — probably Algeria, Russia or South Korea — while the second-placed US will face the Group H winners, likely to be Belgium. Portugal finished with four points and Ghana on one.
Both Germany and the USA reached the last 16 as a result of this scoreline and the one in Brasília between Portugal and Ghana, with a goal by Thomas Müller doing enough to allay suspicions that the two Germans in charge of the sides had colluded to produce a mutually satisfactory result.
A dreary draw looked on the cards for a while and both sides ended the first half appearing content just to see out time, but Germany woke up and began to look a bit more like their old selves after the interval.
Not to the extent of trashing the USA’s goal difference, which might have given Portugal the encouragement they needed, but Müller’s goal reflected German superiority and enabled them to finish top of Group G with seven points.
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Germany begun the second half urgently, with the USA struggling to get beyond half way for the first 10 minutes, and they deservedly made pressure count at a corner in the 55th minute. Per Mertesacker produced a header from Özil’s cross that Howard did extremely well to reach, let alone beat out, only for his clearance to find an unmarked Müller on the edge of the area and he thumped a shot unstoppably past the goalkeeper for his fourth goal of the tournament.
Miroslav Klose is still waiting for the goal he needs to become the World Cup’s record scorer and this was the type of game where he must have fancied his chances, but there were no further heroics. — Agencies