The Navegadores struck through a first-half own goal and a late Cristiano Ronaldo putback, which allowed them to finish third in the group with four points, the same total as the USMNT, but eliminated by virtue of their -3 goal differential compared the United States' even mark. Ghana finish Group G with one point, having failed to reach the Round of 16 for the first time in three World Cups.
GHANA WATCH: Ever try to watch two games at once? It’s not easy, especially when your country's World Cup fate is on the line, but that's what millions of Americans (and Germans, Ghanaians and Portuguese) were doing on Thursday.
With US supporters looking for pretty much any result except a Ghana win, things got a little hairy at times, especially when the Black Stars pulled one back early in the second half, meaning one more Ghana goal would have knocked the US out. But Jurgen Klinsmann's men and their fans could breathe easy at the end thanks to a certain Portuguese star …
THE RONALDO WE KNOW: Cristiano Ronaldo looked back to his old self after breaking US hearts in Manaus but must have been wondering by the end of the first half why he hadn't scored. He struck the bar from a ridiculous angle in the early minutes of the game and looked sure to score when he got a free header in front of goal in 19th minute that he hit right at Ghana goalkeeper Fatau Dauda.
After a quiet opening to the second half, and that heart-stopping equalizer, Ronaldo put US fans' minds at ease when he slammed home a rebound after some sloppy defending and goalkeeping to give Portugal the lead:
Americans have a hate-love relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) June 26, 2014
Of course, American fans didn't want it to get too out of control, as a big Portugal win could have eliminated the Americans, and Ronaldo even obliged there, not just with his first-half near misses, but also with a scuffed close-range shot in stoppage time.
Cristiano Ronaldo's new haircut.. pic.twitter.com/kAKM9GYUdp— Not Match of the Day (@NOT_MOTD) June 26, 2014
If that wasn't enough, he almost repeated the trick just before halftime:
John Boye’s just tried it again! Another flying slice, but this time it flies over the bar. What’s wrong with you, man?— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) June 26, 2014
Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal – The world's best player showed more glimpses of that talent that has taken him to the top, and was unlucky not to score in the first half despite driving the Portuguese attack forward. His winner wasn't a difficult one, but it was only fitting for him to score it and cap off an otherwise miserable World Cup for his team.