RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Germany’s Thomas Mueller stayed on track to retain his Golden Boot title at the World Cup by scoring his fourth goal of the tournament in the 1-0 victory over the United States.
The outcome allowed both teams to advance. Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in the other Group G match but both were eliminated.
A draw would have been enough as well, and it had been the matter of much conjecture before Thursday’s match at the rain drenched Arena Pernambuco. But neither team held back and both attacked, although Germany was clearly in control.
Mueller, who scored five times in South Africa in 2010, had three goals in Germany’s opener against Portugal and added a fourth in a rain-soaked Recife.
With two wins and a draw, Germany topped the group with seven points, while the U.S. progressed with four.
Mueller scored in the 55th minute with a side-footed shot from the edge of the area. He now has nine goals in nine World Cup games.
Germany, a three-time champion, now travels to Porto Alegre to play the runner-up in Group H on June 30.
PORTUGAL 2, GHANA 1
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his mark at the World Cup — but it came too late to spare Portugal an early exit from Brazil.
The world player of the year broke his scoring drought at the tournament with an 80th-minute winner against Ghana.
That result left the Portuguese level on four points with United States in Group G but with an inferior goal difference to the second-place Americans, who lost 1-0 to Germany in Recife. Ghana also was eliminated, finishing bottom of the group.
“We knew we had to score three goals and were depending on the result of the Germany game and we couldn’t do that,” Ronaldo said.
Ronaldo barely celebrated after slamming home his goal, giving Portugal its first win after a 4-0 loss to Germany and 2-2 draw with the U.S.
Ghana captain Asamaoh Gyan’s 57th-minute header canceled out an own goal scored by teammate John Boye in the 31st, and at that stage it was the African side that was closer to qualifying.
A 2-1 victory would have put Ghanaians through but Majeed Waris’ headed chance that he planted wide of the post in the 60th was the only genuine opening they created before Ronaldo’s clincher.
ALGERIA 1, RUSSIA 1
CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Algeria qualified for the World Cup knockout stages for the first time, with Islam Slimani’s heading in an equalizer in the 60th minute to give his team enough competition points to reach the second round.
Algeria placed second in Group H behind Belgium with four points, meaning it will meet Germany in the Round of 16.
The victory prompted mass celebrations on the pitch among the players, and had coach Vahid Halilhodzic shaking his head with disbelief.
Russia, needing a win to advance, went on the attack from the start and dominated the first half with its intricate and swift passing movements through midfield. The Russians took the lead as early as the 6th minute when Alexander Kokorin powerfully headed in a left-foot cross from Dmitry Kombarov.
Slimani’s equalizer came after Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev failed to catch a swinging left-foot free kick from Yacine Brahimi. That was the second costly error that Akinfeev has made in the tournament for Russia.
However, there were indications on the TV broadcast that a green laser was being shone toward the goalkeeper just before the free kick was taken.
Russia coach Fabio Capello later said his goalkeeper was “blinded by the laser beam.”
Before Algeria’s equalizer, Russia had chances to double its lead, notably in the 26th minute when Oleg Shatov weaved through the Algeria midfield but his right-foot shot drifted wide of the Algeria post.
Algeria came closest to qualifying for the second stage at the World Cup in 1982, but West Germany and Austria played out a result that suited both of those teams. The European teams, meeting a day after Algeria had won its last group game, knew that a 1-0 win for West Germany would put both through to the second round at Algeria’s expense.
BELGIUM 1, SOUTH KOREA 0
SAO PAULO (AP) — Reduced to 10 men for more than half the match, Belgium still edged South Korea to finish on top of Group H and eliminate the last Asian team from the World Cup.
With a late goal yet again, Belgium made the difference in the 78th minute when defender Jan Vertonghen followed up a shot from teenage striker Divock Origi and tapped in the rebound.
“We knew all games were going to be tough,” said Belgium coach Marc Wilmots. “But even with 10 men, we still pushed forward. These guys are really hungry.”
After three narrow victories and precious little beautiful play, Belgium will now play the United States in Salvador on Tuesday.