Last minute header denies USA victory over Portugal

A superb header by Silvestre Varela in the final minute of extra time saved world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Monday (June 23) as they secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.

The Americans had looked to be safely into the last 16 after second-half goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw them come back from 1-0 down to lead.

Nani opened had opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he pounced on a horrible miss kick by U.S. defender Geoff Cameron to blast a shot past the goalkeeper, Tim Howard.

As Portugal set back to protect their lead, the Americans started to dominate the game and they were rewarded when midfielder Jermaine Jones produced a thunder blaster in the 64th minute to put them in the lead.

Captain Clint Dempsey, then gave the Americans the lead in the 81st min when he used his stomach to guide the ball into the goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been trying to shake off a knee injury, did not play anywhere near the mercurial levels that he is capable off but he turned up when it mattered the most.

He delivered a Beckham-esque cross for Portuguese substitute Varela to score with a flying header in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

With this result, it means that USA and Germany are leveled on points at the top of Group G and both need just a point to qualify to the round of 16.

USA face Germany on Friday (June 27).

Portugal's hopes of qualifying are slim to none as not only do they need to beat a Ghana side who also hoping to qualify they need to beat them by at least five clear goals to qualify on goal difference.

Source: Reuters, YouTube