United States vs Portugal match report World Cup 2014: Cristiano Ronaldo rescues Portugal from elimination with cross for dramatic Varela equaliser

USA 2 Portugal 2

The match was almost done and most on the Portugal bench had already come to terms with their elimination from this World Cup when Cristiano Ronaldo, right at the death, produced the cross that kept his team alive.

It was headed home powerfully by Varela and Portugal, like Ghana, are still alive. Realistically, given Germany’s vastly superior goal difference, they would need Joachim Low to beat his former boss, Jurgen Klinsmann, in Recife and then engineer a positive result between themselves.

Just as his great rival, Lionel Messi, had done against Iran, Ronaldo made his move when it seemed almost too late. There had been plenty of sweat running down Ronaldo’s brow in the Amazon but for most of the match he was heavily marked, and forced wide. He was not fully fit and, had his knee been right, the night might have been different.

 Portugal scored early and they scored late. It was one of Ronaldo’s former colleagues at Manchester United, Luis Nani, who gave Portugal the lead in the opening exchanges after Geoff Cameron had made a hash of clearing Helder Postiga’s cross. He took once touch, Tim Howard in the American goal, went down fractionally and fatally too early and Nani blasted his shot into the roof of the net.

 

Just before the break, the Everton keeper did far better. After Nani’s shot had slammed against the post, Eder seemed certain to finish off the rebound but for Howard, falling backwards, tipping his shot over the bar.

 

For Klinsmann’s side, this was the reverse of what had happened in their opening game, when Clint Dempsey had scored early and allowed the United States a degree of comfort against Ghana.

Comfortable was something Portugal had never been in the 4-0 rout by Germany which had given Paulo Bento’s side no other realistic option but to go for the win in Manaus.

However, Bento would have known how vulnerable his defence, lacking the suspended Pepe and the injured Fabio Coentrao and his first-choice keeper, Rui Patricio, would be. Before the match was 20 minutes old, Postiga was taken off with a hamstring injury.

Soon Patricio’s replacement, Beto, was being put under pressure, first by Dempsey who forced him to save from a tight angle, and then from two shots from Michael Bradley, the first of which thundered just over the bar while the second, travelling far less fast, slipped just past the far post.

Substitute Varela heads in the equaliser After the interval Bradley came closer; denied on the line by Ricardo Costa. Fabian Johnson, part of a collection of Klinsmann’s squad that learnt their football in Germany, cut to the byline, beat Beto and left Bradley with the goal at his mercy only for Costa to block on the line.

The defender’s heroics gave Portugal only a brief respite as Jermaine Jones, who like Costa wears the number 13, unleashed a shot that curled past Costa’s head and buried itself in the corner of the stranded Beto’s net.

Get Adobe Flash player

Worse, far worse was to follow for Ronaldo. Once more, Johnson broke down the right. Bradley’s shot was blocked but played back in by Graham Zusi and chested home by Dempsey. One of the two men who wore the captain‘s armband had made a decisive intervention. He was soon to be followed by the other.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment