Portugal achieved a long-suffering victory against Ghana 3-2, this Thursday in a World Cup Group H match, after Cristiano Ronaldo overcame the African resistance by converting a penalty in the 65th minute, which made him the first footballer in history to score in five World Cups.
The Portuguese achieved his eighth goal in 18 games, after having scored one in Germany-2006, another in South Africa-2010 and another in Brazil-2014, with four in Russia-2018, including a hat-trick against Spain.
When the game was stuck for Portugal with a goalless draw, Cristiano Ronaldo received a cross into the area from the left and struggling with defender Mohammed Salisu fell to the ground, US referee Ismail Elfath awarded a penalty.
Ghana, despite everything, managed to equalize in one of the few approaches in the 73rd minute, through Andre Ayew, receiving a cross from the left.
But Portugal, who had struggled to find the goal, recovered, and scored two more goals, through Joao Felix (78) and Rafael Leao (80), in two semi-counterattacks, just when Ghana had emboldened.
With the game resolved, Ghana scored one more goal, through Osman Bukari (89).
The meeting was guessed as a duel between Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous Portuguese striker, with five World Cups behind him, at 37 years old, and Iñaki Williams, 28, recently ‘signed’ by Ghana, born in Bilbao and who came to play a friendly against Bosnia with the Spanish team.
And the fight was clearly won by Cristiano Ronaldo, who wasted a one-on-one in minute 83, although he was ruled offside, before being substituted in minute 88.
Cristiano, in what will probably be his last World Cup, was looking to become the first footballer in history to score in five World Cups. And he did it.
The objectives of Iñaki Williams, whose little brother Nico does play in the Spanish team and is also in this World Cup, were more modest.
After not curdling in the Red, perhaps he wanted to show, with the homeland of his parents, that he has enough quality to have done it.
But Portugal, with a cast of footballers who play for the best clubs in Europe, imposed its hierarchy from the beginning.
Cristiano Ronaldo also had the motivation to show that at his age he still has the quality to play for any club in Europe, despite not having a team at the moment, by terminating his contract with Manchester United, after some unfriendly statements towards the entity.
With Portugal clearly in command of the game, Cristiano Ronaldo had the two best chances in the first quarter of an hour.
First, with speed, filtering through the defenders, to receive a forward pass, but he couldn’t get past the African goalkeeper, who jumped on him, causing the Portuguese’s shot to bounce off his body.
And then heading a cross from Raphael Guerreiro from the left in a good position, in a shot that went wide.
Portugal dominated with a technical midfield and three forward men, since Cristiano Ronaldo was supported a lot by Joao Felix and Otavio on the sides, but only the former Real Madrid player was in danger.
Iñaki Williams, for his part, waited in vain for a ball to reach him, with little success. He almost didn’t touch the ball.
Ghana, with its orderly defense of five men, survived the Portuguese onslaught as best it could.
Cristiano Ronaldo managed to score a goal after half an hour, but the referee annulled it considering that he had previously pushed Alexander Djuku with his arm.
The setting did not change in the second half and the Portuguese harassment continued, with some rare African counterattack.
In one of them, Mohammed Kudus made a great run, in the 55th minute, in which he almost covered the entire field to launch a shot that grazed one of the posts.
The stands were full of fans devoted to Cristiano Ronaldo and after game time he began to sing the name of the Portuguese idol, perhaps eager to see him score.
Ronaldo listened to these acclamations and soon after fulfilled his wishes, opening a victory that puts Portugal first in Group H, with three points, while Uruguay and South Korea, who tied this Thursday without goals, have one. (D)