THE DAY REPLAYED – As the group stage reached its climax at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, Portugal, Ghana, Korea Republic and Russia were all left facing early flights home along with the 12 sides eliminated before them. The tournament has come to a close too for Luis Suarez, with the Uruguay striker suspended for nine matches and four months following an incident during La Celeste's meeting with Italy on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Algeria are revelling in a breakthrough moment after decades of frustration. Les Fennecs (Desert Foxes) recorded a 1-1 draw with Russia to seal their progress to the Round of 16 for the first time in the history, ensuring a place in the hearts of a nation for Vahid Halilhodzic and his men.
Portugal 2-1 Ghana (Budweiser Man of the Match: Cristiano Ronaldo, POR)
USA 0-1 Germany (Budweiser Man of the Match: Thomas Muller, GER)
Korea Republic 0-1 Belgium (Budweiser Man of the Match: Jan Vertonghen, BEL)
Algeria 1-1 Russia (Budweiser Man of the Match: Islam Slimani, ALG)
Memorable momentsEnd of days in Recife
The heavens opened above Recife as USA and Germany locked horns amid a torrential downpour at the Arena Pernambuco. The grim conditions gave the game an apocalyptic feel, but it was in Brasilia where tournament last rites were being read. 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a goal against Ghana and was named Budweiser Man of the Match, yet even he could not save Portugal from elimination – goalkeeper Beto's tears at the final whistle summing up the Iberian side's heartbreak.
Breaking new ground
The goals scored in today's games blasted Brazil 2014 into the record books as a new benchmark was set for group stage strikes. A total of 136 goals were registered in the opening phase, six more than at Korea/Japan 2002. Fittingly, current adidas Golden Boot leader Thomas Muller notched the record-breaking effort, hitting the target against USA with a thunderous side-footed shot.
*Beaten 1-0 by Belgium, Korea Republic were unable to salvage a little late pride for the Asian contenders at Brazil 2014. For the first time since 1990, no AFC hopeful was able to record a victory at the global showcase. In contrast, Africa will have an unprecedented two representatives in the knockout phase, Algeria and Nigeria combining to blaze a trail for the continent. The tournament has smiled on CONCACAF too, with three of its teams surviving the group stage for the first time.
Long wait over
The scenes of joy that greeted Algeria's vital draw with Russia spoke volumes about the scale of the north Africans' achievement. Having held Fabio Capello's charges 1-1, Les Fennecs clinched a maiden berth in the Round of 16, leaving them to look forward to the uncharted territory of the knockout phase. Budweiser Man of the Match Islam Slimani delivered the telling blow, heading in from a precision-guided Yacine Brahimi free-kick.
*The stat *50 – Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Brazil with one minor consolation. Unable to find the net in his first two outings at Brazil 2014, the Real Madrid forward finally opened his account in Portugal's farewell match, racking up his 50th international goal in 114 appearances. Only four other players involved in the tournament have also passed the half-century mark, and 70-goal Miroslav Klose will be the sole member of the club in the Round of 16, with Didier Drogba (63), David Villa (59) and Samuel Eto'o (55) all eliminated. Ronaldo has now struck in three separate World Cups, becoming the first Portuguese player to do so after adding to efforts in 2006 and 2010.
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Next up (all times are local)Brazil-Chile, 28 June, 13.00, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Colombia-Uruguay, 28 June, 17.00, Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
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