Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in Brasilia on Thursday but were still left to rue their previous results as they were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage.
Ghana also saw their World Cup dreams ended despite Asamoah Gyan cancelling out John Boye's own goal with half an hour to go. With the goal, Gyan set the record for most career World Cup goals by an African player, per ESPN FC:
Cristiano Ronaldo was out to claim his first goal of the 2014 World Cup and inspire his side to an unlikely turnaround to see them through to the last 16.
He almost got off the mark in spectacular style just six minutes in as he went for goal from an outrageous angle, beating keeper Fatau Dauda and ricocheting off the crossbar, per BBC Sport:
Opta noted the frustrating number of times the Real Madrid star has hit the woodwork in the tournament so far in Brazil:
4 -Ronaldo and Asamoah (Bettega too) have hit the woodwork more times (4) than any other player in the #WorldCup since 1966. Unfortunate— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 26, 2014
Another chance came not much long after as he powered a header toward the goal from seven yards out, but Dauda made a save, per ESPN FC:
As ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan pointed out, Ronaldo was looking much more threatening than he had done in either group game previously against Germany and USA:
Ronaldo coming a lot closer to scoring today... already cross clipped off bar, free kick saved & now 6 yard header straight at keeper.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 26, 2014
Football writer Iain Macintosh commented on Ronaldo's demeanour, as he often seemed a disconsolate figure when his teammates failed to live up to his standards:
Ronaldo slips the ball to Ruben Amorim in the box. In five seconds, Ruben Amorim somehow ends up near the corner flag. Ronaldo visibly sags.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) June 26, 2014
But he did finally get his reward to give Portugal a 2-1 lead in the second half, powering home from inside the box after Dauda put it on a plate for him:
Ronaldo standing on penalty spot and Ghana keeper palms ball straight to him ... perfect to hit... but he still took it well.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 26, 2014
Opta notes it was a record-breaking strike:
He could have had a couple more in the closing stages, but with numerous goals to make up on the USA, Portugal never looked to have enough to qualify.
Pepe made his return to proceedings having been suspended after his red card against Germany in their opening 4-0 defeat.
ITV Football tweeted a heart-warming image of the player in the tunnel before kick-off:
However, sportswriter Tariq Panja noted that it was not long until he was back to his old tricks:
ESPN's Richard Jolly was full of praise after a half without incident as the Portuguese went in leading 1-0 but still with some way to go to qualify:
Congratulations to Pepe, who has survived 45 minutes of football without doing anything idiotic.— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) June 26, 2014
Corrigan noted that toward the end of the game Pepe was acting as peacemaker, rather unusually considering his penchant for causing controversy:
Moutinho with hack at Gyan who reacts angrily. Both booked. Pepe acts as peacemaker as players from both sides rush in.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) June 26, 2014
While Ronaldo bagged a goal and Pepe managed to stay on the pitch, Portugal could still not do enough and were knocked out of the tournament due to their inferior goal-difference to the USA.
It was supposed to be a World Cup in which Ronaldo dragged his team toward the knockout rounds, but the former Manchester United man never seemed quite on form after pre-tournament injuries.
It remains to be seen whether Pepe will take any blame for Portugal's exit after his needless red card saw them a man down early as they got hammered by Germany.
But it was not a successful tournament for the Portuguese and they become yet another high-profile casualty from Europe after the exits of Spain, Italy and England.