Portugal started the World Cup with a win against Ghana. After a difficult first half, Cristiano Ronaldo broke the spell with a penalty goal in the second half. The signal for a spectacular end to the match, after which it eventually became 3-2 for the Portuguese.
Key moment: Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty goal broke open the match, after which four more goals suddenly followed.
Man of the match: Bruno Fernandes signed for two assists.
We will also remember him: Rafael Leo. Anyone who did not know the AC Milan winger will undoubtedly get to know him this World Cup. In Italy he is working on a punishing season and now he also scored his first international goal for Portugal as a substitute.
A lot had been said and written about it beforehand, but Cristiano Ronaldo (37) was just in the base with the Portuguese in their first match against Ghana. The Portuguese superstar has had an eventful few days after his explosive interview about Manchester United, followed by the dry message from ManU that the contract with Ronaldo was terminated by mutual agreement. As a free agent at this World Cup, he must therefore try to play in the hearts of another European top club.
Ronaldo was not unmoved before the start of the match and had tears in his eyes during the Portuguese national anthem. Not only beforehand, also at the start of the game everything revolved around CR7. The first big chance of the game was for him. After (not the first) loss of possession by Kudus, Ronaldo came alone in front of goal. His control was just not good enough, so goalkeeper Ati-Zigi was out of his goal just in time to make a save. Moments later, Ronaldo climbed above everything and everyone on a cross from Guerreiro, as usual. That he headed wide from close range was not his habit.
CR7 still scored in the first half. After a beautiful pass from Bernardo Silva, the Portuguese superstar did not hesitate and shot the ball against the nets. However, the Portuguese party was canceled because the ref had already blown the whistle for a pushing error by Ronaldo just before the goal. However, there was very little to see in the game leading up to the goal.
Furthermore, there was little to do in the first half. Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa did not have to touch a single ball with his hands, but the Portuguese attacking spirit also quickly faded away. Ghana is only 61st in the FIFA ranking, making it the lowest ranked country at this World Cup. Making it to the World Cup was therefore difficult. Somewhat surprisingly, it succeeded at the expense of Nigeria, although it was narrow because it came down to the number of away goals. Portugal seemed to feel that it was better than Ghana early on in the game and seemed to think that a goal would come naturally, without really pushing through.
After the break it was a little less one-way traffic and Ghana played better, but attacker Inaki Williams was not reached enough. Kudus then tried it himself with a long run, but his effort went wide. And then all eyes went back to the inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo. He provoked a light penalty kick and put himself behind the ball.
The stress could be read on his face, but a few deep sighs later Ronaldo shot hard into the 1-0. The entire Portuguese team, including bench seats, walked towards CR7 to celebrate. Ronaldo also broke a record with his goal and is now the only player ever to score in five World Cups. punishment.
For a moment Ghana seemed to disturb Portugal’s party, because the unexpected equalizer soon fell. Kudus brought the ball well in front from the left, after which Ayew was able to tap in the equalizer with a bit of luck. Portugal, however, was liberated by Ronaldo’s opening goal and suddenly found their way to goal. Bruno Fernandes sent Joao Felix deep and he finished the 2-1 beautifully. A minute later, Rafael Leao already scored the 3-1. The winger has had an excellent season at AC Milan, but had to be satisfied with a substitution at Portugal. Leao did not let it get to his heart and scored his first ever goal for the national team. Again the assist was from Bruno Fernandes.
CR7 came close to 4-1, but he started from an offside position and also couldn’t get past the Ghanaian goalkeeper. Bukari (ex-AA Gent) made it 3-2 in the final, but the Ghanaians didn’t get any further. Although Inaki Williams was sensationally close to 3-3 in the very last minute. He had lingered behind goalkeeper Diogo Costa and suddenly popped up behind him like a devil from a box to snatch the ball from him. However, Williams slipped, causing his plan to fail.
After a quiet first half, we still got some spectacle in the second half. And Portugal can therefore call itself the narrow winner of this game.