Brasilia, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Cristiano Ronaldo's 80th-minute goal handed Portugal a 2-1 win over Ghana at the Estadio Nacional on Thursday, but it wasn't enough to lift the team into the next round.
Portugal entered the match with a far inferior goal difference and needed a big win over Ghana to have a chance at reaching the next round.
John Boye's own goal handed Portugal the lead, but the African side equalized in the 57th minute through Asamoah Gyan, giving the Black Stars a chance at going through.
With the United States losing 1-0 to Germany in the other Group G match, another goal for Ghana would have been enough. However, some poor goalkeeping from Fatau Dauda handed Ronaldo the winning goal.
The result moves Portugal level on four points with the United States, but the Americans go through on goal difference, while Ghana finishes on the bottom of the group with just one point.
"We tried to do our best at this tournament, but we weren't able to," said Ronaldo. "Today was a must-win game and we won it. We created a lot of chances. We knew that if Germany were to win by a goal [versus USA] we needed to score four, and we created enough to have done that. The feeling we're left with is that it could have been done, because we created enough chances."
Prior to the match, two of Ghana's better players, midfielders Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, were sent home after separate incidents involving Ghana officials.
"The disciplinary incidents of the past few days didn't have any impact on our performance," Ghana head coach Kwesi Appiah said. "I think that, if you compare it with the team we had at the 2010 World Cup, this side is quite a lot younger - in that team we'd had players who'd been preparing for years. But we're growing in confidence and we're building a nice team for the future."
The match didn't start well for the African nation as an attempted cross from Ronaldo sailed over the head of Dauda and struck the crossbar.
Ronaldo threatened again with a close-range header in the 19th minute that Dauda was able to parry, but Miguel Veloso's left-wing cross was turned into his own net by Boye in the 31st, putting Portugal in front.
Ghana was handed a lifeline in the 57th minute when a cross from Kwadwo Asamoah found Gyan at the back post for a free header that he powered home.
Majeed Waris then spurned a great chance to put Ghana in front when he headed a shot wide of the net from six yards with goalkeeper Beto at his mercy.
The difference came in the final 10 minutes as a deflected cross was poorly cleared by Dauda on his goal line, handing Ronaldo an easy rebound goal that still wasn't enough for Portugal to advance.