RONALDO MAGIC CAN'T CLOSE GAP; Frustration and Tears for Portugal Conjuror as Victory Is All in Vain

Daily Mail (London), June 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

RONALDO MAGIC CAN'T CLOSE GAP; Frustration and Tears for Portugal Conjuror as Victory Is All in Vain


Byline: JEFF POWELL reports from Brasilia

PORTUGAL 2

Boye 30 og Ronaldo 80

GHANA 1

Gyan 57

JEFF POWELL reports from Brasilia CRISTIANO Ronaldo might have achieved the impossible. He might have delivered the landslide of goals it needed to fill a void in goal difference as deep as the Grand Canyon and thereby send the USA plunging from that famous precipice of theirs.

If half the great man's thunderous shots and leaping headers had crossed the line then Portugal would have done so too.

Inexplicably, it was not to be. At the very least the supreme footballer of the year should have gone out of Brazil 2014 -- and perhaps departed the World Cup forever -- with a hat-trick.

Yet the fates decreed he should be given only one goal. It was a trifle in return for the command performance he gave.

It was the winner, against a Ghana team which cast out its own demons to put on a thrilling show of their own. But it was not the miracle this genius of a ball conjurer deserved.

Run after run and shot after shot ended in seemingly impossible frustration. When one last brilliant, surging effort was somehow denied he just sat there, at first beating his fists on the turf in despair, then gazing around him disbelief.

If it is some small consolation, Ronaldo will be forever remembered for what he almost achieved on this sunlit afternoon, not for his failure to match Lionel Messi and now Neymar in World Cup goalscoring.

That Ronaldo, 29, could play with such desire despite carrying into this match his belief that Portugal were not good enough to challenge for the game's greatest prize is all the more remarkable.

Kudos, also, to Ghana. They came into this match out of meltdown in their dressing room and made a splendid fight of it.

It all came to a thrilling climax but there had been as much or more turmoil going on before it started.

Ronaldo packing in readiness for going home as soon as the game was over. Ghana beating him to it by sending two of their players packing before the kick-off.

The Africans flying in three million bucks in readies to stop the rest of their team packing up before they even found out they had not scraped through to the last 16.

Never mind that both Portugal and Ghana still had a chance of making it to the knockout phase at kick-off. An outside chance, maybe, but surely one still worth fighting for no matter what was going on over in Recife.

At least Sulley Muntari thought so. The AC Milan midfielder was so upset with the way things were going that he physically assaulted a Ghanaian executive committee man during a team meeting.

Kevin-Prince Boateng, once of Tottenham and Portsmouth and now with Schalke, did not go quite that far but he did make his feelings known as to why Ghana were bottom of this group with a 'vulgar verbal assault' on manager James Kwesi Appiah.

The pair were put on the first plane out of here. But don't feel sorry for those two. Save your pity for the tens of thousands of Ghana fans who had travelled in the hope of seeing Africa's day at the World Cup finally arrive. …

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