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.

News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there