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Portugal survive Ghana scare as Ronaldo makes history in 3-2 win

Ronaldo, naturally, took center stage at the start of his fifth and likely last World Cup, particularly after a fraught buildup to the tournament in which he gave an unauthorized, tell-all interview criticizing Manchester United's manager, owners and teammates.

November 25, 2022 / 07:45 PM IST
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot his side's opening goal against Ghana during a World Cup group H soccer match at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot his side's opening goal against Ghana during a World Cup group H soccer match at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Portugal survived a stiff challenge from Ghana to win 3-2 to go top off the table in Group H after the earlier match between South Korea and Uruguay ended in a goalless draw. Cristiano Ronaldo made history to become the first male player to score in Five different World Cups.

It was an ordinary first half which saw Portugal getting out of the blocks quickly as they created a multitude of chances in the first fifteen minutes, but squandering them all. This included two chances for Ronaldo who failed to convert on both occasions. Ghana weathered the Portuguese onslaught quickly to ensure that the both teams hit the dressing rooms without conceding any goals.

But the second half was a completely different affair. After wasting two chances in the first half, Ronaldo managed to get a penalty kick awarded in his favor, although replays suggested there wasn't much contact to award the penalty in the first place. Wheeling away after the ball struck the back of the net, a smiling Ronaldo performed his usual leap and swivel in the air — the crowd roared his trademark “SI-UUU” as he did the pirouette — before getting mobbed by teammates.

Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana eight minutes later, but Joao Felix regained the lead for Portugal in the 78th and Rafael Leao added a third. Osman Bukari reduced Ghana's deficit in the 89th.

It was a wild finish to a slow-burner of a World Cup match that ended with Portugal defender Danilo clearing the ball away from near the line in the ninth minute of stoppage time. Ronaldo, who was sitting in the dugout after being substituted, put his hand on his head in relief.

Ronaldo, naturally, took center stage at the start of his fifth and likely last World Cup, particularly after a fraught buildup to the tournament in which he gave an unauthorized, tell-all interview criticizing Manchester United's manager, owners and teammates. On Tuesday, he split with the English club, meaning he is in the shop window in Qatar.

Another scoring record adds to the luster of his resume. A penalty against Iran in 2006 started his tally of World Cup goals — it is now up to eight in 18 matches — and he lifted the ball beyond Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati with his latest spot kick after a long, theatrical buildup to the penalty.

Bruno Fernandes arguably played a more important role in Portugal's win, setting up the team's second and third goals with perfectly weighted through-balls.

But the final few moment of the game were very nervy for Portugal who almost gifted an equaliser int he dying moments of the match. Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa dropped the ball in front of him, oblivious to the presence of Inaki Williams lurking with deadly intent behind him. Williams darted forward and stole the ball but slipped as he turned to shoot it goalwards.

 
Neeraj Krishnan
first published: Nov 25, 2022 12:55 am