FIFA: Portugal stay afloat, Belgium in 2nd round, Algeria win big
A last gasp equaliser by substitute striker Silvestre Varela helped Portugal stay afloat in the World Cup with a 2-2 draw against the United States while Belgium eked out hard-fought 1-0 win against Russia to enter the last-16 from group H.
Algeria beat South Korea 4-2 in another high-scoring thriller to keep their chances of knock-out qualification alive. Portugal will now need to win big against Ghana in their last group league game while praying that the match between United States and Germany don’t end in a draw, in order to qualify for the Round of 16. While Germany and the US are on four points, Portugal and Ghana have a point each.
It was Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who essayed the perfect centre for Varela to head home with just 30 seconds left for the final whistle. It was one of the most exciting matches where Portugal got the lead as early as fifth minute when Nani capitalized on a defensive blooper from Geoff Cameron. A faulty clearance landed on Nani’s feet as the Manchester United player slotted home from the close range. The injury to Postiga and the subsequent introduction of forward Eder did hurt Portugal. Eder failed to make any impact as he lost a lot of balls in the opposition box much to the dismay of his captain.
In the 54th minute, Valencia’s Ricardo Costa pulled off an incredible goalline save off a Michael Bradley push latching on to an assist from Fabian Johnson. Portuguese goalkeeper Beto was nowhere near and Bradley couldn’t believe that Costa had pulled off that save.
However Jermaine Jones’ swinging long-ranger from outside the penalty box saw a helpless Beto stranded as it rammed into the net. Jones received the ball when Nani’s ill-directed feeble clearance came to him. Skipper Clint Dempsey made it 2-1 in the 81st minute. Yedlin made a lovely run along the right before cutting it back for Bradley. His shot was blocked into the feet of Zusi who crossed it for Dempsey. Dempsey chested it from close range to give US the lead.
It was finally left to Ronaldo to turn provider in order to help Portugal live for another day.