Portugal coach Paulo Bento has admitted his side were not good enough to progress to the round of 16 of the World Cup.
The Portuguese won 2-1 over Ghana in their final Group G game in Brasilia but exited the tournament because of an inferior goal difference behind the United States.
Portugal could have leapfrogged USA into second place with a more convincing victory against Ghana but did not capitalise on many of their chances.
“We created a lot of opportunities and we deserved to win by a bigger margin which would have given us a chance to qualify,” Bento said to Portuguese newspaper Ojogo.
“Of course the balance of our World Cup is negative.
“We didn’t achieve our first aim which was to progress to the second round of the competition.
“We have what we deserve.
“The two teams that have gone through have done so on merit.
“Now we must analyse what went wrong and congratulate Germany and the United States for progressing.”
Bento did take some satisfaction from Portugal’s response to their opening game nightmare against Germany.
Portugal lost 5-1 in their group opener before holding USA to a 2-2 draw.
“In the second and third game we gave a different image of what we are worth than in our first,” the 45-year-old said. “As I said, the Germany game affected us, because we played in numerical inferiority, because it was a heavy defeat and also because a few players got injured.”
Thursday saw the return of Portuguese defender Pepe to the starting line-up after the Real Madrid player served his one-match ban for the red card he received for head-butting Germany’s Muller.
Manchester United winger Nani, meanwhile, says Portugal have been able to leave the World Cup with their heads held high.
A first half own-goal from Ghana’s John Boye had given Portugal the lead before Asomoah Gyan equalised after the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s first goal at this tournament secured his side the victory.
“We wanted a win in order ot leave the tournament in the best possible way,” he said. “We gave everything against Ghana to get the win.
“Obviously this is not the World Cup we had expected because we wanted to give the Portuguese people joy.
“We have good players in the national team and a united group.
“We have to work harder so that the national team can do better in the next competitions.”
Nani also defended coach Bento, who has been at helm since 2010.
“It’s not Bento’s fault that we were eliminated,” he said. “He did a good job.”
Meanwhile, Ghana coach James Kwesi Appiah said his decision to expel Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng from the team on Wednesday did not affect his team against Portugal.
The two Ghana stars were sent back to Africa for indiscipline.
“The decision to send home the two players (Boateng and Muntari) was taken for disciplinary reasons,” Kwesi Appiah said to L’Equipe. “You cannot think about one player, you have to think about the good of the team.
“The decision was not taken this morning prior to the game but a day ago.
“The players were aware of it.
“If you want to build a team you have to do things right.
“I don’t think this had an effect on the game.”
Similar to Portugal, Ghana lost their opener to the USA but held Germany to a 2-2 draw.
When Gyan scored an equaliser against Portugal, the Africans only needed one more goal to qualify as second in the group but the Portuguese scored next.
“We had our chances but we weren’t able to transform them,” Kwesi Appiah said. “Our idea heading into this game was to win regardless of what the United States and Germany did in the other game.”
Ghana finished bottom of the group, four years after reaching the quarter-finals of the competition.
“I am sure the people back home are disappointed but I don’t think we had a disappointing tournament,” the coach said. “Compared with 2006 and 2010, this team is very young with players who have only played for two years or even less in the national team.
“I believe in them, I have confidence in the future.
“I will continue.”