USA 2, PORTUGAL 2 (WORLD CUP GROUP G)
RONALDO INJURY TIME CROSS CONVERTED BY VARELA TO SNATCH POINT WITH SECONDS TO SPARE AND SAVE PORTUGAL’S WORLD CUP
Portugal were 30 seconds from a World Cup exit when Cristiano Ronaldo popped up with a cross for Silvestre Varela to grab a 95th minute equaliser with a diving header.
For over ten minutes the Americans had held a lead that had looked set to send Portugal home but the Real Madrid star never gave up despite having a fairly ordinary match.
For a large stretch of this game it seemed like Portugal would be winning this game after an early mistake by the Americans allowed them to score first.
Manchester United winger Nani showed composure in front of goal by slamming the ball into the roof of the net when Geoff Cameron’s poor clearance fell to him in the fifth minute of the game.
However, Portuguese joy at scoring the vital first goal was tempered by an early injury to Helder Postiga who limped off in the 16th minute.
The Americans tried to get back into the game and chances for Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Fabian Johnson were either wayward or tame and saved by Beto.
Ronaldo was reduced to a few party tricks in midfield areas and a poorly taken free kick that was well over Tim Howard’s goal.
Nani’s first half injury time shot hit the post and Howard flailed a hand to tip Eder’s follow-up strike over the bar.
Michael Bradley was denied on the line by Ricardo Costa after a great cut back by Graham Zusi in the 56th minute.
Jermaine Jones smashed in the American equaliser in the 64th minute with a ball that swerved into the bottom corner from the edge of the area with Beto rooted after a corner routine that looked to be going nowhere.
To their credit, the Americans didn’t settle for the draw and Portugal found the space to test their defence with Ronaldo caught offside and Nani’s penalty claim turned down but towards the end of the game the Manaus heat started to catch up with the US team who were slowing down.
There was still time for drama when a sweeping US counter attack ended with a great cross deflected out to Zusi who put the ball back in for Clint Dempsey to put the Americans into a shock lead by chesting in the cross with nine minutes to go.
Ronaldo looked anguished as Tim Howard saved his effort with four minutes to go but five Portugal players were offside. He also saw a header go wide but he never stopping trying and got his reward when his injury time cross was converted by Varela.
The Portuguese will now need to beat Ghana and hope that Germany beat the USA and rack up a five goal swing to have any hope of going through but at least they have something to play for in their final group game.