BRASILIA, Brazil – Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his mark at the World Cup – 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 tied with the United States with four points 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 at the bottom of the group.
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.
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.
We created many opportunities but we could not finish them, said Ronaldo, who was voted man of the match in a bittersweet ending to the World Cup.
Ghana captain Asamaoh Gyan’s 57th-minute header canceled out an own goal scored by teammate John Boye in the 31st, and at that stage it was the African side that was closer to qualifying.
ALGERIA 1, RUSSIA 1: In Curitiba, Brazil, Algeria qualified for the knockout stages for the first time, with Islam Slimani heading in an equalizer in the 60th minute to give his team enough competition points to reach the second round.
Algeria placed second in Group H behind Belgium with four points, meaning it will meet Germany in the Round of 16.
The victory prompted mass celebrations on the pitch among the players, and had coach Vahid Halilhodzic shaking his head with disbelief.
Russia, needing a win to advance, went on the attack from the start and dominated the first half with its intricate and swift passing movements through midfield. The Russians took the lead in the sixth minute when Alexander Kokorin headed in a left-foot cross from Dmitry Kombarov.
Slimani’s equalizer came after Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev failed to catch a swinging left-foot free kick from Yacine Brahimi. That was the second costly error that Akinfeev had made in the tournament.
However, there were indications on the TV broadcast that a green laser was being shone toward the goalkeeper just before the free kick was taken.
Russia coach Fabio Capello later said his goalkeeper was blinded by the laser beam.
Before Algeria’s equalizer, Russia had chances to double its lead, notably in the 26th minute when Oleg Shatov’s shot drifted wide of the Algeria post.
Algeria came closest to qualifying for the second stage at the World Cup in 1982, but West Germany and Austria played out a result that suited both of those teams. The European teams, meeting a day after Algeria had won its last group game, knew that a 1-0 win for West Germany would put both through to the second round at Algeria’s expense.