Portugal tops Ghana but still falls short; Belgium lifted past South Korea

BRASILIA, Brazil — Cristiano Ronaldo’s 80th-minute goal handed Portugal a 2-1 win over Ghana at the Estadio Nacional on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to lift the team into the next round.

Portugal entered the match with a far inferior goal difference and needed a big win over Ghana to have a chance at reaching the next round.

John Boye’s own goal handed Portugal the lead, but the African side equalized in the 57th minute through Asamoah Gyan, giving the Black Stars a chance at going through.

With the United States losing 1-0 to Germany in the other Group G match, another goal for Ghana would have been enough. However, some poor goalkeeping from Fatau Dauda handed Ronaldo the winning goal.

The result moves Portugal level on four points with the United States, but the Americans go through on goal difference, while Ghana finishes on the bottom of the group with just one point.

Prior to the match, two of Ghana’s better players, midfielders Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, were sent home after separate incidents involving Ghana officials.

Ghana was handed a lifeline in the 57th minute when a cross from Kwadwo Asamoah found Gyan at the back post for a free header that he powered home.

The difference came in the final 10 minutes as a deflected cross was poorly cleared by Dauda on his goal line, handing Ronaldo an easy rebound goal that still wasn’t enough for Portugal to advance.

Belgium 1, South Korea 0

Jan Vertonghen netted a second-half tally to lift 10-man Belgium to a 1-0 win over South Korea and the Group H summit on Thursday at the Arena Corinthians.

After sloppy but effective wins over Russia and Algeria in their first two matches, the Belgians entered their group-stage finale needing only a draw to win the group.

Belgium will face the United States in the knockout round in Salvador next Tuesday, while South Korea finishes on the bottom of Group H with just one point.

South Korea responded with a chance on the half-hour mark as Ki Seung-Yeung had a go from well beyond the penalty area that forced Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to make a nice diving stop.

South Korea created little in the way of scoring chances over the final 13 minutes and bowed out of the World Cup, while Belgium will get ready to face the United States next week.

Algeria 1, Russia 1

Islam Slimani’s 60th-minute goal helped Algeria claim a 1-1 draw against Russia on Thursday at the Arena da Baixada, sending the Desert Foxes to the second round for the first time in the nation’s history.

Algeria entered the match knowing that a draw would likely be enough to see them reach the next round, while Russia needed three points to have a chance at advancing.

The Russians couldn’t have asked for a better start as Alexander Kokorin’s header put the team up 1-0 after just six minutes.

Algeria will now face Germany on Monday in the round of 16, while Russia ends its tournament with two points, leaving Fabio Capello’s men in third place.

Algeria had to see out the final 30 minutes in order to book its place in the next round, and the team was able to do so with little trouble as Russia could only manage to put four shots on target over the course of 90 minutes.


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