Ronaldo Makes History as Portugal Holds On to Defeat Ghana in World Cup


For Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, in between the tears and cheers, there was some history mixed in.

Before taking the field in what could be his fifth and final World Cup, the 37-year-old Ronaldo was brought to tears during the national anthem. He went on to make history during Portugal’s 3-2 win over Ghana in Group H play on Sunday, becoming the first male player to score in five separate World Cups.

Ronaldo was awarded a penalty kick after being taken down in the box during a challenge by Ghana’s Mohammed Salisu in the 62nd minute. He then fired a low liner past diving goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi to give Portugal a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long as Ghana became the first of the five African teams to score a goal in the 2022 World Cup. That drought ended when Mohammed Kudus chased the ball to the endline and sent a cross to André Ayew, who scored the equalizer in the 73rd minute.

Portugal quickly responded as Bruno Fernandes sent a through ball to João Félix, who chipped it past Ati-Zigi for a 2-1 Portugal lead in the 78th minute.

Two minutes later, Fernandes set up Rafael Leão for the score to open a two-goal lead.

Ghana’s Osman Bukari scored on a header in the 89th minute to cut the deficit to 3-2. Portugal overcame a near disastrous blunder by keeper Diogo Costa that almost led to the equalizer in the final seconds of extra time. As Costa casually rolled the ball on the pitch before attempting to kick it out of the box, Ghana’s Iñaki Williams charged from behind and stole the ball. He slipped while attempting a shot on the empty net, allowing a defender to clear the ball.

Portugal, ranked ninth in the world, earned three points with the group play win.

It’s the first of what Ronaldo hopes will be many victories in Qatar as he seeks to cap his historic World Cup career with a deep run for Portugal, whose best finish was third in 1966. Ronaldo took the field just two days after he mutually agreed to terminate his contract with Manchester United following an explosive television interview in which he criticized the club and manager Erik ten Hag. His fifth appearance in the World Cup tied the record for most appearances all time with Lionel Messi of Argentina, Lothar Matthäus of Germany and Rafael Marquez and Antonio Carbajal of Mexico.

Looking to become the first player to score in five World Cups, he had some early opportunities.

In the tenth minute, Ronaldo chased a through ball from Otávio into the box, where Ghana keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi came out to challenge and made a sliding tackle to prevent the shot attempt. Shortly after, Ronaldo rose for a header but misconnected, sending the ball wide of the back post.

Ronaldo did find the back of the net in the first half, but the goal was waived off after he was whistled for pushing off Ghana’s Alexander Djiku.

Ghana, the fifth and final African teams to take the field at the 2022 World Cup, was looking to score the country’s first goal of the tournament after Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco and Cameroon all were shut out in their respective openers. Ghana was held without a shot on goal in the first half, managing a pair of corner kicks in the 37th and 38th minutes.

Portugal held possession for 62 percent of the first half, placing seven shots on goal. The two teams played to a scoreless half, the seventh of the tournament and third of the day.  

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