Cristiano Ronaldo has carved his name into the history books as the first player to score in five World Cups during Portugal’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Ghana on Thursday night in Qatar 2022.
The 37-year-old’s thumping penalty in the 61st minute put Fernando Santos’ side ahead in the Group H encounter at Stadium 974 in Doha, with the star striker eager to showcase his talents to potential new clubs after an acrimonious split this week with Manchester United.
But Portugal’s advantage didn’t last long as Ghana captain Andre Ayew leveled his side in the 73rd minute.
Ayew’s strike was the first goal by an African side at this year’s tournament and was celebrated joyfully by the Black Stars’ vociferous fans, who saw their side fail to score a single shot in the opening 45 minutes of a blunt attack.
Unfortunately for them, the cheering scenes seemed to prompt Portugal to turn on the afterburners, with Joao Felix and Rafael Leao scoring twice in the next seven minutes to make it 3-1 after 80 minutes.
However, any hopes they had of a comfortable walk to victory were dashed by Osman Bukari who converted to make it 3-2 in the 89th minute.
Portugal clings on during dramatic climax
A tense nine minutes of extra time followed, which came to a close when Portugal defender Danilo cleared the ball from close to his touchline after an error of judgment by goalkeeper Diogo Costa gave Ghana the chance to grab a dramatic equaliser.
It was the tip of a wild end to what had been a slow-paced game for the first 60 minutes, but Portugal’s ability to hang on and take all three points put themselves at the top of Group H after the scoreless draw earlier on Uruguay and South Korea. Thursday.
Portuguese supporters said they were happy to start the tournament with a win, even if some aspects of their side’s performance left something to be desired.
“The execution was not very good. But at this stage you only want the three points, and we got it today,” fan Joao Santos told Al Jazeera.
“And Ronaldo scored. We are so happy he did. We need to win this World Cup for him. It will be his last and it will be a good way to say goodbye to him,” he added.
Ghanaian fans, for their part, welcomed their team’s performance, even though the result was disappointing.
“We did well. The performance was better than I expected,” supporter George Bawuah told Al Jazeera.
“We have a really good chance to continue if we play like we did today,” he added.
Portugal will play against Uruguay on Monday. Ghana will play against South Korea on the same day.
Additional reporting by Hamza Mohamed at Stadium 974