Last gasp strike saves Ronaldo's dream

This seemed like it was never going to be Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup.

Rik Sharma

The Ballon d'Or winner was injured before the tournament and in his two performances never looked like the fantastic player he can be.

In the right conditions he could have lit up Brazil, but this appeared a sorry display from both team and star player.

It was Silvestre Varela who spared Portugal from elimination, with a last-minute header to keep his team alive.

And though Ronaldo's overall performance was miserable, it was his superb cross which created the chance.

A pulsating second half will be remembered and cherished by viewers, even if neither team was happy with the result.

Ronaldo himself didn't even bother to celebrate the stoppage-time equaliser and marched straight down the tunnel on the final whistle. 

His former Manchester United team-mate Nani had given Portugal the lead, blasting into the roof of the net from close range with rare composure. 

Portugal led for some time but the USA grew into the game, Ricardo Costa clearing a Michael Bradley effort off the line.

But then Jermaine Jones scored with a goal straight out of the Cristiano playbook.

After a corner that was only half-cleared, Jones beamed his effort into the far corner from long range, leaving Beto standing.

And in the 81st minute Clint Dempsey helped the USA complete a remarkable turnaround.

He bundled home from close range after a deflection put the ball into his path. 

The USA were going through. And then Cristiano intervened. 

Like Eden Hazard for Belgium against Russia and Lionel Messi for Argentina against Iran, Ronaldo came up with the goods in the nick of time. 

His, and Portugal's tournament still hangs by a thread, but you wouldn't put it past the Real Madrid star to do his part against Ghana.

Match facts

USA: Howard, Bradley, Besler, Beasley, Dempsey (Wondolowski 86), Bedoya (Yedlin 72), Jones, Beckerman, Zusi (Gonzalez 90), Cameron, Johnson

Goals: Jones 64, Dempsey 81

Portugal: Beto, Bruno Alves, Veloso, Ronaldo, Moutinho, Costa, Meireles (Varela 68), Nani, A Almeida (Carvalho 46), Pereira, Postiga (Eder 16)

Goals: Nani 5, Varela 90


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