In a dramatic Group H match, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the first time in five World Cups as his penalty saved Portugal from losing to Ghana 3-2.
After leaving Manchester United by mutual consent following his incendiary interview, Ronaldo became a free agent. He responded to his detractors by making history when he converted the opening penalty kick after Mohammed Salisu fouled him.
Ghana’s experienced scorer Andre Ayew scored a close-range goal to tie the score against the flow of play, but Portugal quickly answered with goals from substitute Rafael Leao and Joao Felix, both of which were assisted by Bruno Fernandes.
After a turbulent week, Ronaldo revealed in the spotlight and received a standing ovation when he was substituted. However, Portugal had to survive a tense conclusion after Osman Bukari headed in Ghana’s second goal. Ronaldo, who scored his first World Cup goal at the age of 21, did so back in 2006.
In the tenth minute of stoppage time, Ghana had a great chance to grab a point when Inaki Williams caught Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa off guard to steal possession in the area. However, the forward lost his balance at the key moment, allowing Ronaldo and his team to hold on for the victory.
How Ronaldo made history again
Ronaldo grabbed center stage throughout the game as well, but for the wrong reasons as he wasted two excellent opportunities in the early going. Ronaldo dominated the build-up to the game as the aftermath from his contentious appearance last week continued.
Ronaldo did manage to put the ball in the back of the net as Portugal maintained their lead in the 31st minute, but the referee ruled that he had fouled Alexander Djiku before beating Ati-Zigi, so his celebrations were cut short.
Up until that point, Ghana had diligently defended, but Ronaldo finally took advantage of his opportunity after being deemed to have been fouled by Salisu, striking a decisive penalty beyond Ati-grasp, Zigi’s his 118th international goal setting off loud celebrations in Portugal.
Danilo Pereira, a Portuguese defender, failed to block a cutback from the dangerous Mohammed Kudus, which allowed Ghana’s Ayew to score from close range, bringing the score to a temporary tie.
Then, barely three minutes after coming on, the substitute Leao scored his first goal for Brazil, converting from another Fernandes pass after Felix had finished coolly from the latter’s through-ball.
The game appeared to be over for Ghana after those goals, and Fernando Santos took advantage of the opportunity to substitute Ronaldo for the remaining moments. However, a mistake from Joao Cancelo allowed Bukari to score again, and there was then a major scare when Williams robbed Costa at the very end.
However, Portugal managed to hold on, and the victory propelled them to the top of Group H. Ronaldo was able to take a break while still pursuing the one title that has eluded him.
Ghana Coach Oddo Atto criticized the Referee
When Salisu challenged Ronaldo and he fell, VAR declined to step in. After video technology declined to review the decision, referee Ismail Elfath pointed directly to the spot, prompting Ronaldo to score the opening penalty kick.
Oddo Atto, the coach of Ghana, called the penalty that led to Ronaldo’s goal a “wonderful gift” and criticized the American referee who gave it.
Because of how bluntly Addo criticized American referee Elfath, FIFA may take action against him.
“If somebody scores a goal, congratulations. But this was really a gift. Really a gift,” Addo said. “What more can I say? (It was) a special gift from the referee.”
Addo answered when asked why he believed Ghana’s tight loss was caused by, “The Referee”.
Ronaldo hails ‘‘beautiful moment’’
Ronaldo referred to his record-breaking fifth World Cup goal as a “wonderful moment” after making history.
“We started on a good foot,” he added. “It’s a very important win. We know in these competitions the first match is fundamental.
“It’s another record, too – that makes me very proud. I am very happy for the team to have put on an excellent performance. It was difficult but we deserved to win.”
However, when questioned about the subject, Ronaldo expressed a lack of interest in talking about his contentious departure from Old Trafford.