Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed Portugal a 2-1 win over Ghana in Brasilia, but it was insufficient to keep them from crashing out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ on goal difference. Asamoah Gyan’s 57th-minute header had cancelled out John Boye’s first-half own-goal before the FIFA Ballon d’Or holder’s late settler, but Paulo’s Bento’s side would have required at least another three goals without reply to pip USA to second place in Group G.
A game both sides began with hope of reaching the knockout phase quickly got going. Ronaldo’s pace got him away down the right. A cross seemed inevitable, but the 29-year-old looked up, noticed the keeper slightly off his line and, from a seemingly impossible angle, struck an audacious, astonishing strike that looped over Fatau Dauda but came back off the crossbar.
A few minutes later Ronaldo unleashed a trademark free-kick, which moved as it fizzed through the air and was parried behind by the Ghana goalkeeper. Ronaldo then headed straight at Dauda from point-blank range, following a superb right-wing cross from Joao Pereira.
Ghana instantly counter-attacked. Gyan did well to hold off Bruno Alves, but his close-range shot was repelled by the legs of Portugal keeper Beto. The first half-hour had somehow finished goalless, but the deadlock wouldn’t remain much longer. Portugal’s opener came about after Joao Moutinho did exceptionally to retain possession and feed Ruben Amorim, whose left-wing cross was sliced into his own net by John Boye.
Amorim then dragged his shot narrowly wide from just inside the box, before Atsu cut in from the left but failed to keep his curler on target, ensuring Portugal carried a slender lead in at the break.
That advantage lasted just 12 minutes into the second half. Andre Ayew did well to free Kwadwo Asamoah down the left, and his cross with the outside of his boot was headed home at the back post by Gyan.
Ghana should have been in front moments later. Gyan’s cross found the unmarked Mahed Waris six yards out, but he headed wide when it appeared easier to score.
Asamoah, Gyan and Agyeman Badu all tried their luck but failed to trouble Beto, before Portugal were gifted a goal on 80 mnutes. Jonathan Mensah headed a Nani cross up in the air and Fatau, rather than catching it, flapped it straight into the path of Ronaldo, who slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Portugal needed a goal-blitz and they attacked relentlessly thereafter, but Boye made a fine block to deny Ronaldo and 2-1 is how it finished, eliminating both teams from a highly competitive group.