Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a big chunk of football history as the first man to have scored at five World Cups when Portugal faced Ghana in their opening Group H fixture of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The free agent scored his eighth World Cup goal after winning a contentious penalty thanks to involvement from Mohammed Salisu. it made him the second oldest player to score at a World Cup after Roger Milla did it for Cameroon in the 1994 tournament.
But it did not stop Ghana from fighting back, as they responded almost immediately to give Africans the world over something to celebrate. After Senegal’s loss to The Netherlands in which they scored no goals, Tunisia and Morocco played out goalless draws against their opponents before Cameroon lost narrowly to Switzerland.
The game came to life after Ghana’s equaliser and after a first half that was devoid of any action – zero goals on target from both sides – both teams created and took most of their chances. it would be the Portuguese, however, who would come out on top to help preserve the beauty of Ronaldo’s history-making goal.
A second-half masterclass from both teams
Portugal and Ghana last met in the 2014 World Cup and the captains of both sides, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andre Ayew exchanged knowing glances as they spoke to the referees just before kickoff. They are the only survivors from the Portugal and Ghana teams who clashed in Brazil.
The first half would turn out to be uneventful, but for a few chances missed by Ronaldo, whose form and powers, in general, have been called into question this season. He, however, rolled back the years in the 13th minute to send a powerful header wide off the right post after leaping almost three centimetres to meet the corner kick from Raphael Guerreiro.
The second half began on a calmer note but kicked into gear in the 62nd minute when Southampton man Salisu was judged to have brought down Ronaldo who was charging into the Ghana penalty area. Ronaldo buried the penalty to break and set a number of records in the process and give Portugal the lead.
The goal, the 118th of his international career, made him the third person to be both the oldest and youngest goalscorer for a country at the World Cup, while it also made him the second oldest goalscorer at the tournament and the first man to score at five tournaments.
Minutes later, the euphoria would subside as Ghana’s captain, Andre Ayew, would beat his mark to tap in a cross from Mohammed Kudus. Five minutes later, Portugal would extend their lead through Atletico De Madrid man Joao Felix, as he finished the first of Bruno Fernandes’ assists in the game. The Manchester United man would set up AC Milan forward Rafael Leao for Portugal’s third two minutes after Felix scored, to put the game beyond the reach of the Ghanaians.
Portugal and Ghana would trade chances until the 89th minute when Ghana would bag a second thanks to Osman Bukari against the run of play at the time.
Despite a late charge from both teams, Bukari’s goal would prove to be the last of the game as the match ended 3 - 2 in favour of the Portuguese.
The headlines will be all about Ronaldo, but Ghana have just given us the best fight seen in the World Cup after Saudi Arabia.
Both teams will be in action Next Monday. Ghana will face South Korea, while Portugal will face Uruguay to determine their fate in the tournament.