Two goals in the second half by Bruno Fernandes for Portugal in the encounter with Uruguay has not only guaranteed Portugal a berth into the Round of 16, the score line has put Ghana’s destiny in their own hands.
On the last match Day for Group H, all Ghana need is to avoid defeat. Portugal have now joined France and Brazil in picking slots for the next round.
For a Portugal whose World Cup adventure has so far been crafted by the controversy and brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo, the night belonged to Fernandes, who shone throughout and always looked threatening.
His first goal set the tone of how the match would play out, with a 55th minute cross intended for Ronaldo that sailed fortuitously into the net, before a perfectly executed spot kick in stoppage time that guaranteed his side’s passage to the knockout stages with a match remaining.
Ronaldo had celebrated the first goal ecstatically as his own and smiled awkwardly as it was announced as belonging to Fernandes, who twice came close to completing a hat-trick in the dying moments.
The win was the third time at a World Cup that Portugal have won two successive group stage matches, and the previous two times led to streaks into the semi-finals.
Fernandes played down talk of his starring role and said his focus was the next match against South Korea and getting a perfect nine points for Portugal.
“What’s important is we were able to go on to the next round and very important was the win against a tough opponent,” he said.