USA 0, GERMANY 1 (WORLD GROUP GROUP G)
PORTUGAL 2, GHANA 1 (WORLD CUP GROUP G)
GERMANY TOP GROUP G, USA QUALIFY IN SECOND ON GOAL DIFFERENCE DESPITE LOSING TO GERMANY AFTER PORTUGAL BEAT GHANA
The pre-match build-up to these Group G games in Brasilia should have highlighted the news that Ghana had sent two key squad members home in disgrace prior to their game against Portugal but that wasn’t the top story thanks to the breaking Luis Suarez news that he had been hit with a massive ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the Uruguay vs Italy match on Tuesday.
Kevin Price Boateng and the already suspended Sulley Muntari sent home for separate incidents in the Ghana camp and were “suspended indefinitely” from the Ghana team. The players had already refused to play without an additional payment of $3m in cash for ‘bonus payments’ which was jetted in from Ghana today.
Reports suggested that Boateng had used “vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah” while Muntari was guilty of an “unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member”.
Boateng had apparently shown “no remorse” for his actions but the whole issue was secondary to the news that Suarez had been hit by a nine match international ban, four month ban from all football activity, and entering any football stadium, plus a 100,000 Swiss Francs fine.
Uruguay have immediately announced their intention to appeal the punishment and have three days in which to lodge their paperwork.
Once attentions finally turned to the Group G games, it was clear that Portugal were trying to repair their goal difference by attacking early and often.
Ronaldo hit the bar with a cross/shot and directed a header straight to Fatau Dauda in the Ghana goal who was delighted with the save and celebrated.
It was an own goal by Ghana’s John Boye which gave Portugal the lead, though, as he sliced Miguel Veloso’s cross into his own net.
Portugal were always going to have a mountain to climb, however, and needed to repair their goal difference which was almost fatally damaged during their 4-0 mauling against Germany in their opening group game.
In Recife, the Germans finally got past some stout American defending in the 55th minute. Tim Howard beat Per Mertesacker’s header away but Thomas Muller hit the rebound back past him from 20 yards out for his 4th World Cup goal of the tournament. It was his 9th World Cup finals goal in his 9th finals appearance and drew him level with Neymar and Lionel Messi in this tournament.
The American position was put in further doubt by a Ghana equaliser in Brasilia when Asamoah Gyan converted Kwadwo Asamoah’s pass with a powerful header to score his 6th World Cup finals goal and become the most prolific African goal scorer at the finals.
With a more realistic goal difference, a Ghana win could have sent them through to the knockout phase but it wasn’t to be their day.
It was Cristiano Ronaldo, a man named after former US president Ronald Reagan, who gave the Americans in Recife cause to applaud when he scored a late winner for Portugal who finished on four points but three goals worse off and out of the tournament. The strike was only his third World Cup finals goal, with just one in each of the 2010 and 2006 tournaments.
The USA had precious few sights of goal against Germany but there was brief excitement at the end of the game when Alejandro Bedoya’s injury time chance was blocked by Philipp Lahm and Clint Dempsey’s header went over the bar but both sides were satisfied with the result when it became known that Portugal had beaten Ghana in Brasilia but Ronaldo spurned a trio of presentable late chances that could just have seen Portugal sneak through instead.