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World Cup 2014
 

USA 2 - Portugal 2: Highlights, key battle and what the result means

Published on Jun 23, 2014 9:26 AM
 
Paid millions of dollars, disappeared from work for 90 minutes plus four minutes of stoppage time, Cristiano Ronaldo picked the last action of the Group G to make his first meaningful contribution at this World Cup. -- PHOTO: AFP.

Paid millions of dollars, disappeared from work for 90 minutes plus four minutes of stoppage time, Cristiano Ronaldo picked the last action of the Group G to make his first meaningful contribution at this World Cup.

With barely seconds left on the referee's watch, the reigning World Player of the Year delivered the cross for Silvestre Varela to snatch a 2-2 draw in Manaus, hence saving his country's blushes and joining England, Spain, Cameroon, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Australia for an early flight home.

As for the United States, they are left to rue what could have been another highlight of their growing reputation in world football.

Highlights

- It took the Portuguese just five minutes to score when Nani rifled into the net after USA failed to clear a cross.

- But the Americans showed great spirit to claw back through Jermaine Jones' piledriver (64th min) and Clint Dempsey (81st).

- But Ronaldo whipped in a teasing cross five minutes into stoppage time for forward Varela to equalise dramatically with a glorious diving header.

Key battle

Ronaldo vs Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman

Oily hair vs lots of hair. Tricks and flicks vs towers of power. One-man army vs the gruesome twosome.

Portugal's game plan seems bent on just passing the ball to their star man and the USA reacted by detailing a two-man demolition crew in defensive midfield.

For almost the entire match, Jones and Beckerman did a sterling job to silence Ronaldo, sometimes with robust body checks. But CR7 pulled a fast one when he drifted wide to the right to deliver the crucial cross that saved a point for Portugual.

Man of the Match

Looking more like a rugby player or a WWE wrestler, Jermaine Jones makes no disguise that his game is not about subtlety.

He may be 32-years-old now and doesn't boast an A-list employment record by playing for Besiktas in Turkey but he was absolutely colossal in USA's midfield.

Jones' powerful performance in the engine room meant that Portugal's Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso had limited opportunities to feed Ronaldo. And when CR7 received the ball, Jones was often the first to arrive with a crunching challenge.

To cap a magnificent display, the former Schalke man blasted home USA's first goal from outside the box to show that he can destroy Portugal in more ways than one.

What the result means

Although Ronaldo and Portugal had rescued a point in Manaus, they are still bottom of Group G with one point, equal with Ghana, but with an inferior goal difference (minus four compared to the Africans' minus one).

They now need to thrash the Ghanaians to wipe out that deficit and hope that the USA will lose to Germany in their final game next Friday.

A draw will be enough to see the Americans and Germans through to the round of 16.

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