The final game of Group H and these 2 teams who were on the verge of elimination. Ghana or Portugal had to win, and win by a good margin and hope that the other match would not be a draw. Needless to say that there would be a lack of attacking football in this match. Eder started this game for Portugal with Pepe taking his rightful place back at the heart of defence, while Miguel Veloso played at left back. Ghana were without Sulley Muntari who was suspended and was sent home for misconduct and Kevin-Prince Boateng who was sent home along with Muntari. Gyan was expected to fire as was Ronaldo and what followed was rather interesting.
The game had beautiful rhythm to it and a natural ebb and flow. Both teams were playing a superb brand of football and it was hard to pick who would make it through. Portugal had the early chances with Real Madrid’s Ronaldo getting close on a number of occasions and Joao Moutinho and Willian Carvalho playing like absolute Generals in the midfield. Ghana didn’t disappoint either, Beto was always kept on his toes and was helped with a good performance by Pepe and Alves. The game was just begging for a goal and it came just before the half and hour mark, through Ghana’s John Boye. No, Ghana didn’t take the lead, it was Portugal. Another Own Goal. Moutinho side stepped a few players and found Veloso on the left, whose cross was sliced into his own net by the center back Boye. There was no need to do that as he had cover behind and it costed Ghana dearly. The score at half time was 1-0 Portugal. but it could have and should have been more. Ronaldo was thwarted by the Ghanaian keeper when he parried away a close range header and was rather wasteful.
The second half was more of the first with a lot of physical play and Ghana started opening up the defence. Their efforts soon reaped rewards and broke countless Portuguese hearts. Just when we got news that Thomas Muller had taken the lead for Germany, Asamoah Gyan scored his 6th World Cup goal and put Ghana level. A superb header from a super cross, leaving Beto fuming at his defenders. After things were levelled, Ghana seemed relentless in their defense as Portugal seemed so in their attack. Eder was horrible and Ronaldo was unlucky and a distraught Beto was taken off injured and Eduardo replaced him. Portugal became the first team since Greece in 1994, to use all 3 goalkeepers in one World Cup. Both teams seemed to heading out of the cup. And they did. But, before that, let us rewind to 70 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo finally, finally, scored a goal. It was a long time coming, it made no difference to the outcome of the future for either teams, but at least, he scored a goal. A simple goal nonetheless, but deserving. Nani’s cross worried the defence and an indecisive palm by the goalkeeper led the ball straight to Ronaldo, who slotted home, to put Spain 2-1 up. It could’ve been 3-4 or for Ronaldo, but his finishing let him down. The game ended at Ghana 2-1 Portugal and both teams bowed out.
For Portugal, it was just that thumping versus Germany that made all the difference, had they conceded a goal or two less, they would be through. But these minor details make the difference. Ronaldo did not fire, although we cannot put the entire blame on him, when you have players like Eder and Bruno Alves playing with you. He tried his best, and with another keeper, he would’ve scored at least a couple more. Ghana was let down by their wastefulness in attack too, again versus Germany, where if they had shown a little more composure they would have bagged 3 points. With some unrest in their camp and Gyan being the only shining light, we can safely say Ghana did deserve to go home. What happens in Russia, we do not know. In Group G, Germany qualified as winners and United States of America as runners-up.
FIFA/Our Man Of The Match: Cristiano Ronaldo
This man will not be remembered for his game this World Cup, but for his different harircuts. That being said, he was Portugal’s best player on the night, scoring the winner and running havoc in front of goal. Disappointed by his finishing, the striker could’ve have a hat-trick. Nonetheless, he had a good game and was finally recognized by FIFA and us. He also became the first player to score a goal in 3 consecutive Euro Cups and World Cups (Euro 04, 08, 12; WC 06, 10, 14), a stunning feat for a player who is just 29 years old. Commiserations to him, as his best was not good enough.
Our Flop Of The Match: Eder
Eder was so bad, we were laughing by the end of it. He is an absolute disaster of a player. Many say Welbeck only runs around aimlessly with the ball and has no impact, but guess what? Eder doesn’t even run with the ball. Wasteful with possession and not a single shot on goal, he is not a good enough replacement for Postiga and Almeida and was disastrous. Paulo Bento should give him his version of the hair dryer and Eder has constantly disappointed throughout the tournament.