The group stage matches ended with the final round of 16 match ups being decided by the top two teams in Group G and H.
One of the most anticipated matches of the night was the one between Ghana and Portugal with the African team looking to find their way to the next round with a win over the Portuguese. Portugal needed a win as well and whoever won the match then had to pray that USA lost to Germany via a big goal margin.
The pre-match talk was overshadowed by the suspension of Ghanaian players, Boateng and Muntari, thus Ghana had to make two changes to their first eleven. Portugal made 4 changes to the team that drew with USA in a bid to secure a vital win.
Ronaldoâ€™s audacious effort in the 5th minute almost opened the scoring for Portugal and he had another chance in the 19th minute but failed to find the back of the net.
The goal did come at the half hour mark as Portugalâ€™s Boyesliced Veloso’s cross from the left into the net via the bar and right-hand post. That was the only goal in the half and the Ghanaians went into the break looking to come out with some more luck.
After a quiet start to the second half Ghana equalised with 57 minutes gone, Gyan nodding home at the far post following a superb cross from K. Asamoah with the outside of his left foot. They almost had the lead but failed to score with Waris somehow heading wide.
The failed chances would come to haunt the African team as a goalkeeper error gifted Ronaldo his first goal in the world cup to earn Portugal the win.
In the other match, USA took on Germany knowing they need a point to secure progression.
The Germans were the first to get a chance on goal as Arsenal forward Podolski blazed an effort over the bar. The Americans grew into the game but it was Germany who looked more likely to score with Mesut forcing a save from Tim Howard in the 34th minute.
There were no goals in the half though thus the game failed to live up to the earlier intensity.
At half-time Low introduced veteran striker Miroslav Klose, who was looking to be the leading world cup goal scorer having equaled Ronaldoâ€™s record with his goal in the Ghana match.
The Americans could not hold the fort for long though as Germany found the back of the net in the 55th minute with Muller smashing home emphatically from the edge of the box after Howard had parried Per Mertesacker’s header.
USA rallied to get a goal as news trickled in that Ghana had equalized but Christianoâ€™s goal in the other game ensured that they went through in second place despite the loss.
In the final group matches Algeria took on Russia with Korea Republic facing Belgium. Algeria needed a point to proceed as Belgium were looking to maintain their 100% record going into the next round.
Russia got off to a dream start as they took the lead in the 6th minute as Kokorin rose to head Kombarov’s perfect left-wing cross into the top corner.
Russia continued to have the better of the play and Oleg Shatov went close in the 26th minute with a swerving drive from distance that drifted narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Algeria had a few chances to draw level but couldnâ€™t find the net and the Russians went into the break knowing that they needed to maintain the advantage to proceed.
Samedov went close to doubling Russia’s advantage shortly after the break, but the Algerian keeper raced from his line to deny the midfielder.
The save proved vital as Algeria got the vital goal in the 60th minute. Akinfeev came to palm away Brahimi’s free-kick but was beaten to the ball by Slimani, who nodded into an empty net.
The Algerian keeper was on hand to keep the scores level as Russia had the better part of the final minute exchanges and earn his team a vital draw that would see them proceed unless Korea beat Belgium by a big scoreline.
Belgium made seven changes from the team that beat Russia with Manchester Unitedâ€™s Adnan Januzaj making his first international start.
The changes meant that Belgium were a bit quiet in the first exchanges with South Korea looking the livelier of the two teams. They didnâ€™t take advantage of this though and the Belgians grew into the game with Mertens failing to give his team the lead in the 25th minute as he blazed over from close range after pouncing on a loose ball.
Courtois was forced to make some saves in the final minutes of the half to keep the score level going into the break.
Korea started the second half with renewed determination knowing time was not on their side to secure progress to the next round.
They couldnâ€™t get the ball past the Belgiam keeper though and were made to pay for this in the 77th minute as Belgium scored the winning goal from a counter. Origi blasted a ferocious effort at the Korean keeper and, having failed to push the ball to safety, the goalkeeper was helpless on the rebound as Vertonghen smashed Belgium into the lead.
The loss meant that Korea was knocked out of the tournament with Algeria claiming second spot to be the second African team to make it to the next round.
Belgium now face USA in the round of 16 as Algeria have a daunting task against world cup favorites Germany.