Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of leading Portugal to World Cup glory is still alive – just – after a last gasp Silvestre Varela goal rescued a point against the USA in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
USA had come from a goal down to lead 2-1 but Varela’s header from a Ronaldo cross means Portugal still have a chance to qualify for the knock out stage. They are relying on Germany to beat Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, and must also achieve a six-goal swing when they take on Ghana if they are to reach the last 16.
Despite the draw, Portugal put in a huge improvement from their opening 4-0 loss against Germany, and things looked to be going well when Manchester United winger Nani gave Paulo Bento’s side the lead after just five minutes.
But the USA always looked dangerous on the counter-attack against a nervous looking Portugal defence without the Real Madrid duo of Pepe and Fabio Coentrao. The former was suspended for the game following his red card against Germany, while the latter has been ruled out of the rest of th tournament with a thigh strain.
Despite reports 29-year-old Ronaldo would not be fit, he was at time dazzling, and his full range of trickery was on display as he mesmerized the USA defenders at times. He will feel there is some room for improvement in his finishing though, which was wayward.
Shortly into the second half, USA equalised through Jermain Jones. And 10 minutes from time, former Fulham and Tottenham Hostpur forward Clint Dempsey look liked he had secured progress to the last 16 when he finished off a nice US move from close range. But Ronaldo had other ideas, and deep into stoppage time, sent in an inviting cross for Varela to finish.