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Varela’s late header saves Ronaldo’s World Cup hopes

A superb header by Silvestre Varela in the final minute of time added on saved world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Sunday as it secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.

Portugal's Varela scores their second goal during their 2014 World Cup G soccer match against USA at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 22, 2014.
Portugal’s Varela scores their second goal during their 2014 World Cup G soccer match against USA at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 22, 2014.

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 — a goal by Nani — to lead.

However, with only seconds remaining one sublime cross from a pretty anonymous Ronaldo was met by Varela and it soared past Tim Howard to give them a lifeline as a further defeat after the 4-0 hammering by Germany in the opening game would have seen them out.

The United States — who reached the last 16 in 2010 only to lose to Ghana — are on four points along with Germany, who they play in their final group game, and who their coach Jurgen Klinsmann coached at the 2006 finals.

Ghana and Portugal both have one point and play also on Thursday.