Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his mark at the 2014 World Cup with his 50th international goal for Portugal— but it came too late to spare Portugal an early exit from Brazil.
The world player of the year broke his scoring drought at the tournament with an 80th-minute winner in Portugal’s 2-1 victory over Ghana on Thursday.
That result, however, left the Portuguese level on four points with United States in Group G but with an inferior goal difference to the second-place Americans, who lost 1-0 to Germany in Recife. Ghana also was eliminated, finishing bottom of the group.
[quote]“We knew we had to score three goals and were depending on the result of the Germany game and we couldn’t do that,” Ronaldo said after his most lively performance of the tournament.
“We deserved more, but that’s football. We are leaving with our heads held high.”[/quote]
Ronaldo barely celebrated after slamming home his goal with his left foot, giving Portugal its first win after a 4-0 loss to Germany and 2-2 draw with the U.S.
By that time, the Portuguese still needed a three-goal swing to move above the Americans and even though Ronaldo was presented with two more great chances in injury time at Estadio Nacional, his team was always going to fall short.
[quote]“We created many opportunities but we could not finish them,” said Ronaldo, who was voted man of the match in a bittersweet ending.[/quote]
A 2-1 victory would have put Ghanaians through but Majeed Waris’ headed chance that he planted wide of the post in the 60th was the only genuine opening they created before Ronaldo’s sucker-punch.
It was perhaps no surprise that Ghana delivered its most subdued display of the tournament, ensuring Ronaldo was given plenty of time and space to wreak havoc.
If his finishing had been anywhere close to the standard he delivers week in, week out for Real Madrid, Portugal may even have extended its stay in Brazil — at least for a few more days.[fbphotos id=10154352919295445]
“That’s not the only, single or main reason (Portugal is out),” Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. “We should look at it in a more comprehensive way, not just at individuals.”
Ronaldo could have had a hat trick by the time he finally found the net.
However, Ronaldo had the final say, making no mistake from eight meters out after Dauda had parried the ball high into the air.