How quickly the United States’ allegiances can shift.
Just one game after Cristiano Ronaldo’s brilliant service set up a 95th minute game-tying goal for Portugal against the U.S., the reigning world player of the year netted the game-winner against Ghana.
Portugal’s victory over Ghana gave the United States passage to the Round of 16, despite a listless 1-0 loss to Germany. The United States finished second in Group G and will face the winner of Group H, to be determined Thursday afternoon. Belgium currently leads the group.
The day started out looking positive for the U.S., who needed just a win or tie against Germany to advance to the second round. A tie by Ghana and Portugal also would’ve done the job, while Portugal — facing a minus-4 goal differential — winning was almost assuredly good for the U.S.
Ghana’s John Boye put in an own-goal while trying an acrobatic clearance in the box to give Portugal a 1-0 lead.
But in a span of about five minutes between the two Group G games the situation got very dangerous for the Americans. Germany’s Thomas Muller continued his excellent World Cup with a 55th minute goal on a rocket past Tim Howard to go up 1-0 on the U.S. Then Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan tied it up against Portugal with a goal in the 57th minute.
Had Ghana scored one more goal to take the lead, they would have advanced to the knockout stage over the United States.
But Ronaldo’s goal off an awkward save by Ghana’s keeper Fatawu Dauda put Portugal up 2-1 in the 80th minute. It was unlikely, and in fact proved impossible, for Ghana to score twice in the final 10 minutes to advance.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.