by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 26th 2014)
Pyrrhic Win for Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his solitary goal in the World Cup Finals to beat Ghana 2-1 after a dreadful error by Ghanaʼs goal-keeper Fatau Dauda gifted the World Player of the Year the winner. Earlier John Boye sliced Miguel Velosoʼs cross into his own net to give Portugal a fortuitous lead – fortuitous as the Bahranian referee Nawaf Shukralla broke up a Ghanaian attack.
The referee intercepted André Ayewʼs pass to Christian Atsu with the Chelsea winger – he spent the last season on loan to Vitesse Arnhem. Ayew was incensed, but Shukralla allowed play to continue. Eventually it reached Veloso on the left flank and his cross was sliced horribly into his own net by Boye.
Shorn of the talents of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari – sent home in disgrace – Ghana faced an uphill struggle, but The remaining players seemed up for the fight. Just over ten minutes into the second half Ayew broke forward before finding Juventusʼ Kwadmo Asamoah on the left wing. Asamoahʼs cross, delivered with the outside of his left foot was a sumptuous one that begged a finish and Asamoah Gyan did not disappoint.
Gyan broke another of Roger Millaʼs records. Earlier this week Colombian goal-keeper Faryd Mondragón Ali became the oldest man to play in the World Cup, breaking Roger Millaʼs 24 year-old record. And today, Gyan eased past Milla in the scoring stakes, becoming the most prolific African marksman in World Cup history with 6.
Ronaldo opened his account to get the winner as Mensah and Dauda got in each otherʼs way. Dauda patted it out straight to Ronaldo who scored easily, but the win was hollow. The thrashing that Portugal took at the hands of Germany in their first match cost them dear as despite losing to Germany the USA went through on goal difference.
The Cult Hero
Ronaldo signalled his intent in 5 minutes. Out on the right wing Ronaldo shot from 40 yards out. It beat Dauda convincingly, but rebounded off the crossbar. Over ten minutes later João Pereira crossed from the left and Ronaldo headed powerfully at goal. Dauda produced a fantastic reflex save and celebrated wildly.
At the other end Gyan turned and shot, producing an instinctive save with his feet from Portuguese goal-keeper Beto. Gyan had a header saved too before turning provider on the left after an hour. His cross should have been headed in by Majeed Waris, but Spartak Moscowʼs on loan striker headed wide.
Ronaldo failed to add to his tally twice more in injury time. He flicked Naniʼs cross over and shortly after was denied by Daudaʼs feet. Portugal clung on for the win, but not even Ronaldo could drag Portugal through to the next round. Germany and the USA reached the last sixteen.
Portugal were eliminated by the eventual winners Spain in the last 16 four years ago and Ghana were a handball away from the semi-finals. But both have regressed badly. The Black Stars prop the group up. Can James Kwesi Appiah hold on to his job?