Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wrote World Cup history and successfully started what was probably his last attempt at the title with Portugal. The veteran led the Seleccao to a well-deserved 3-2 (0-0) against Ghana at the start of the tournament, meaning that Portugal secured pole position in Group H for the round of 16.
Ronaldo (65th) scored a controversial penalty kick for the overall superior Portuguese, making him the first player ever to score goals in five World Cups. Joao Felix (78th) and Rafael Leao (80th) put in a gripping second half for the favorites, Andre Ayew (73rd) had equalized for Ghana in front of 42,662 spectators in “Stadium 974”. Osman Bukari (89th) made things exciting again in the closing stages.
The World Cup in Qatar is Ronaldo’s fifth and probably last chance at the greatest of all titles – of course the ambitious man wants to hold the trophy in his hands at the end. “I’m very optimistic. I’m looking forward to a great World Cup,” said the 2016 European champion before the game.
While other big teams like Argentina or Germany stumbled at the start of the tournament, Ronaldo and Co. made it clear that they had to be reckoned with. But of course the Portuguese still have room for improvement, sometimes lacking the pace and ideas to break through the bulwark Ghana. The other group opponents are Uruguay and South Korea, who previously drew 0-0.
Ronaldo, who also rose to the illustrious circle of players with five World Cup appearances (including Lothar Matthäus) against Ghana, was unimpressed by his sacking at Manchester United. “CR7” – proud 37 years old – had good opportunities in the early stages despite Ghana’s defensive five-man chain (10th and 13th), his supposed opening goal was not given because of a foul (31st).
World Cup 2022: Portugal uses Ghana’s blunder coldly
Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi had prayed on the touchline before kick-off, and the rest of the team also showed respect for Ronaldo and his colleagues. Coach Otto Addo, who had played for Borussia Dortmund and HSV in the Bundesliga, gave his team a strict defensive course. The “Black Stars” lurked for counterattacks and threw themselves into every duel. And even missed the possible compensation in added time.
As time went on, Ghana became bolder and created chances – which in turn gave the Portuguese a little more room for their game. Ronaldo can be reasonably satisfied with the start of the World Cup.