Portugal vs. Ghana: World Cup Group G Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first, and last, goal of the 2014 World Cup as Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in Brasilia on Thursday.

The win was not enough to take Portugal through, as they paid the price for being thumped 4-0 by Germany in their opening game of the tournament. But they did avoid the wooden spoon in Group G, which went to Ghana following an abject effort.

Portugal knew they needed goals to stand any chance of progressing and they made a sharp start to the contest at the Estadio Nacional.

Ronaldo has been carrying a knee problem which has restricted his impact in the tournament, but he made a fine start against Ghana.

On five minutes, the world player of the year went within a matter of inches of throwing down a goal-of-the-tournament contender.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Goalkeeper Fatawu Dauda of Ghana makes a save at a header at goal by Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Portugal and Ghana at Estadio Nacional on June 26, 2014 in Brasilia
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Out wide on the right, Ronaldo had a quick look and spotted Ghana 'keeper Fatau Dauda off his line and went for an audacious chip. The effort beat Dauda but thudded against the crossbar.

In the 11th minute, Ronaldo stepped up to strike a free-kick and his effort forced a fine save out of Dauda.

The Ghana 'keeper thwarted Ronaldo for a third time in the 19th minute. The Real Madrid man—sporting a sharp, new haircut—climbed high to meet a cross and powered an effort on target. The crowd were waiting for the ball to hit the back of the net, but Dauda beat the ball away.

Cristiano has started this game like a magnificently coiffured rampaging bull. Vamos Cris!

— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) June 26, 2014

Ghana came into the match dogged by troubles, notably a wrangle over money and the axing from the squad, confirmed by The Telegraph, of Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince-Boateng.

The money issue was seemingly resolved when the country’s government flew in cash to Brazil, confirmed by BBC Sport, much to John Boye's delight:

This picture sums up modern football perfectly. Ghana's John Boye seen kissing his $100K stack from $3mil share. #GHA pic.twitter.com/B3h1DuxuXc

— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) June 26, 2014

Boye, though, hardly justified his bonus payment when he sliced a cross from Miguel Veloso into his own net on 31 minutes to hand Portugal the lead.

A particularly ill-timed blunder for Boye considering the photo that emerged of him kissing a fistful of dollars earlier in the day...

— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) June 26, 2014

Ghana carried an attacking threat, with Andre Ayew forcing a save out of Beto, and Christian Atsu and Gyan fashioning shooting chances but failing to hit the target.

Ghana grabbed a lifeline on 57 minutes through their all-time leading scorer Asamoah Gyan.

It was a simple finish from the forward, nodding home from six yards, but that does not do justice to the goal as a simply stunning cross with the outside of his right boot from Kwadwo Asamoah created the chance in stunning style.

Martin Mejia/Associated Press

Akwasi Appiah's Ghana knew only a win would hand them any chance of progressing, and they should have taken the lead on 61 minutes.

A cross from Gyan picked out Majeed Waris in acres of space six yards from goal. It looked harder to miss than score, but that is what Waris did as he somehow planted his header wide of the post.

Ghana kept probing for a second goal, but the real chance came and went when Waris failed to convert, and they were undone when Ronaldo netted 10 minutes from time.

Terrible goalkeeping from Dauda, who flapped at a high ball he should have caught, presented the ball at the feet of Ronaldo and he needed no second invitation as he slammed home.

The goal secured the three points for Portugal, but the lack of celebration from Ronaldo spoke volumes.

The focus will now be on Euro 2016 qualification for Portugal. For Ronaldo, he is likely to take plenty of time off to remedy the knee complaint ahead of next season's La Liga and Champions League challenge with Real Madrid.

Portugal Player Ratings
Player1st-half rating2nd-half rating
Beto 66
Joao Pereira 66
Bruno Alves 55
Pepe 66
Ruben Amorim 66
Joao Moutinho 77
William Carvalho 55.5
Miguel Veloso6.56.5
Nani4.55
Eder 44
Cristiano Ronaldo 88
Substitutes
Varela6
Vierinha6
Eduardo6
B/R
Ghana Player Ratings
Player1st-half rating2nd-half rating
Fatawu Dauda 64.5
Harrison Afful 65
John Mensah 55
John Boye4.55
Kwadwo Asamoah5.56.5
Mohammed Rabiu 65
Emmanuel Agyemang Badu 65
Christian Atsu 76.5
Andre Ayew 66
Majeed Waris 54.5
Asamoah Gyan 78
Substitutes
Jordan Ayew6
Acquah Afriyie6
Mubarak Wakaso6
B/R

Post Match Reaction

Ronaldo was named Man of the Match, which was of little comfort as he felt his side created enough chances to have qualified, per Fifa.com.

We tried to do our best at this tournament, but we weren’t able to. Today was a must-win game and we won it. We created a lot of chances. We knew that if Germany were to win by a goal [versus USA] we needed to score four, and we created enough to have done that.

The feeling we’re left with is that it could have been done, because we created enough chances. We leave here with our heads held high.