The final FIFA World Cup Group G matches to decide who advance to the knockout round began simultaneously, with the USA and Germany facing off in Recife and Ghana and Portugal in Brasilia. A draw in either game would seal the fate of Portugal and Ghana, ending their tournament hopes at three games played, while a loss by either the Americans or the Germans would keep the door open. A door that would close if either Portugal or Ghana would fail to score enough goals to void the goal difference needed to move on.
Germany came out more aggressive against the Americans than the squad showed against Ghana. The German squad found numerous chances in the first half of play, however, US goalkeeper Tim Howard would not let the ball by. Even though Howard looked strong, the US defense looked shaky to start the game. 10 minutes would pass before the Americans received a chance to kick the ball. As the game progressed the American squad began to settle down and began to get looks at the German goal. However as the first half came to an end, the teams headed to the locker rooms tied 0-0.
In Brasilia, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo had a chance in the 12th minute of play from just outside the box. The Portuguese star rocketed a right-footed shot at the Ghana goal that was stopped by goalkeeper Fatawu Dauda. Again, in the 18th minute, a header by Ronaldo in the box was stopped by Dauda. In the 30th minute, Ghana’s John Boye attempted to clear a shot attempt away that went awry. Boye miss hit the ball off of his knee and sent it into the net for an own goal. That mistake gave Portugal a 1-0 advantage. During extra time of the first half, Portugal was in control of the ball and starting an attack when the official blew the half over. Ronaldo and other Portugal players appealed to the officials for the decision to blow the whistle to no avail and Portugal headed into halftime leading the Black Stars 1-0.
The USA and Germany would advance from Group G into the next round of the FIFA World Cup if the halftime scores held. Ghana and Portugal would be out of the tournament. Ronaldo and the rest of the Portugal team appeared frustrated in the first half. While the team controlled the ball for most of the first half, not finding the back of the net except off of the miss hit by Boye, Ronaldo showed signs of disappointment and frustration. On the other side of the pitch, Ghana was pumped up with emotion and happy with the defensive play. Dauda was visibly charged up after stopping the open header attempt by Ronaldo. Even after the own goal, the Black Stars pulled Boye up and told him to shake it off.
Germany made one change to start the second half by pulling Lukas Podolski out in favor of true striker Miroslav Klose. Tim Howard made a diving save on a German shot that was rebounded and returned past Howard by Thomas Müller for a 55th minute goal. The ball sailed just past the fingertips of Howard, who could not recover quick enough to stop the shot by Müller. Soon after the German’s took the lead over the USA, the Ghana Black Stars scored an equalizing goal off of the head of Asamoah Gyan in the 57th minute.
In Brasilia, Ronaldo finally came through for the Portuguese, scoring a go ahead goal in the 80th minute of play. The left footed shot came from the center of the box and found the lower right corner giving the superstar his first goal of the World Cup and Portugal’s first win in group play. However, with the deficit in-goal differential that Portugal was facing entering the Ghana game, it would not be enough to pass the United States.
As the USA and Germany game ended, Portugal and Ghana were still playing in the Group G game of the FIFA World Cup, hoping for a miracle to advance. There was no chance for enough goals to be scored by either team to pass the Americans. Germany, who was expected to win the group did so. The American team, who was not expected to be able to advance past Ronaldo and Portugal or the Black Stars, capture second place and escape the group of death.
Commentary by Carl Auer