DOHA – Cristiano Ronaldo drew a line under a tumultuous tournament build-up as he wrote his name in the record books to become the first man to score in five World Cups in a 3-2 victory for Portugal over Ghana on Thursday (Nov 24).
Ronaldo drilled home a penalty in the 65th minute of the Group H encounter to set his side on their way and while Andre Ayew equalised for Ghana, Portugal turned on the afterburners with two quick-fire goals to effectively seal the deal at Stadium 974.
Joao Felix produced a delicate finish to give them the lead and Rafael Leao added a third to hand Portugal their first win in the opening match of the World Cup since 2006, even if Osman Bukari pulled another one back for Ghana late on.
The win was not the most convincing for Portugal, and will come as some relief for Fernando Santos’s side, who top the group with three points and next face Uruguay on Monday, when Ghana play South Korea.
For all Portugal’s enterprising attacking play and the goalscoring performances of Felix and Leao, it was Ronaldo who once again showed his unparalleled ability to draw the limelight.
“I think Cristiano is a phenomenon, a legend… in 50 years’ time, we will still be talking about him,” Santos said.
The bitter end to Ronaldo’s second spell at Manchester United had dominated the build-up to the match in much the same way the forward seems to dominate the way Portugal play.
Portugal, however, then revved into gear with Felix latching onto a Bruno Fernandes throughball and lifting his finish nonchalantly over the keeper.
Fernandes was the architect of their third goal too, playing another superb throughball for substitute Leao to slide his finish across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
There was tension at the end, however, as Ghana pulled another goal back with Osman Bukari, appearing unmarked in the box, heading in a cross from the left in the 89th minute, giving a sliver of hope to Ghana’s fans behind that goal.
There was to be no fairytale ending for the Ghanaians though and the night belonged to Ronaldo.
This article was first published in Asia One . All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.