MANAUS – Gp G: United States 2, Portugal 2
—- Jurgen Klismann’s United States team need a draw in their last group game against his German homeland to ensure a place in the knockout second round of the World Cup despite a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage from from Silvestre Varela.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal are still alive in the tournament but only in terms of mathematics. Their earlier defeat by Germany allied to this draw, sees them sitting bottom of the table.
In pratical terms they will be heading home, regretting a string of injuries including the knee problem which restrcted Ronaldo himself to half pace since before he won the Champions League with Real Madrid a month ago.#
Portugal revived their dreams in taking an early lead through Nani but then conceded two crucial goals in the last 27 minutes to Jermaine Jones (63 minutes) and Clint Dempsey (79).
Ronaldo’s impending exit from the World Cup raises again the question about how much did winning La Decima, the long-desired 10th European Champions Cup, cost Real Madrid’s key players in World Cup terms?
Madrid defeated neighbours Atletico in Lisbon a month ago to win the Champions League Final for the first time in 12 years. This was the club’s record-extending 10th triumph since the original European Cup was launched in the mid-1950s.
The effort in Lisbon, both mentally and physically, was immense. On top of all that, Spain’s La Liga is also the latest-finishing of western Europe’s major leagues.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos were far below their usual high standards here in Brazil; indeed, Spain skipper Casillas was centrally at fault in the defeats by both Holland and Chile.
Leading marksman in the Champions League last season with 17 goals and joint top scorer in the European leagues with 31 goals (along with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez) was Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet Ronaldo ended the season injured and at half pace in the Champions League showdown and was clearly still fragile and damaged at the World Cup.
Lacking his usual passion, trickery and goals Portugal are doomed to first-round elimination.
Ronaldo did manage the superb right-wing cross from which Varela dive-headed Portugal’s stoppage-time equaliser in their 2-2 draw with the United States. But clearly he needed rest, if not surgery, and his presence in Portugal’s academic last game against Ghana is unlikely.
Initially it appeared, against the US, that Portugal had surmounted the problems created by injuries plus the suspension of centre-back Pepe. Nani put them ahead from close range. But Team US charged back into the fray and went ahead with second-half goals from Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey.
Varela’s headed equaliser could not lift Portugal off the foot of the Group B table. Germany and the US are favourites to progress.