Captain Cristiano Ronaldo put co-favorite Portugal on the road to victory with a historic penalty goal on Thursday at the World Cup in Qatar. In the 3-2 (0-0) win against Ghana, the superstar started the dramatic final phase with a penalty goal in the 65th minute. Ronaldo is the first player to score in five different World Cups.
After a very controversial penalty whistle, in which he himself fell extremely easily in the Ghanaian penalty area, Ronaldo heaved the penalty for Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati Zigi into the left corner. He paved the way for Portugal’s deserved success in a game that only got exciting after an hour in front of 42,662 spectators at the Stadion 974 in Doha, but then really got going. After Andre Ayew equalized (73′), Joao Felix (78′) and Leao (80′) gave the Portuguese a 3-1 lead, while Osman Bukari (89′) scored the next goal for a hot stoppage time.
The leadership of the visually superior but initially unimaginative Portuguese was not really deserved at the time of the penalty. The Portuguese Selecao, without veteran Pepe in defence, rarely came up with dangerous moments. If so, then since leaving Manchester United, the clubless captain has had his legs in the game.
Ghanaian strives for defensive stability
The Ghanaians tried to maintain defensive stability and relied on transitions, but they lacked the necessary precision. In the 10th minute, CR7 appeared for the first time in front of Ati Zigi, who came out of the goal in time and thus thwarted the goal. In the 13th minute it was Ronaldo again, who was found in the far corner after a quickly played corner, but didn’t get the ball on goal from close range.
Ghana initially struggled to get out of defence, but their 5-4-1 formation gradually got Portuguese attacking efforts under control. But Ronaldo remained a source of unrest. In the 31st minute he got the ball in a duel with Alexander Djiku and hit the far corner. But referee Ismail Elfath from the USA was too impatient and had already blown the whistle because he had seen the Portuguese foul on Djiku. A review by the VAR was therefore no longer possible.
In the 42nd minute, Ronaldo had another chance after an opening pass to him and a one-two with Raphael Guerreiro, but his shot was blocked by the Ghanaian defence. Almost nothing went forward in Ghana. The game, which was poor in chances and emotional moments – apart from Ronaldo’s teary eyes during the anthem – hardly changed at first even after the break.
Penalty whistle completely changed the character of the game
However, Ghana became bolder and put more pinpricks. In the 55th minute, the “Black Stars” had their best chance so far. Mohammed Kudus took a shot from 20 meters and just missed the far corner.
Then came the 62nd minute and the penalty whistle, which also completely changed the character of the game. For minutes Elfath fended off the protests of the Ghanaians, who demanded the video evidence but did not get it. Ronaldo scored, the “Black Stars” were challenged. And they accepted the challenge, the game finally picked up speed.
First, Kudus shot again in the 72nd minute, Diogo Costa in the Portuguese goal saved. The equalizer came a minute later, however, as Andrew Ayew scored the first goal for an African team at the World Cup.
Portuguese immediately struck back
The joy of the Ghanaians didn’t last long, the Portuguese struck back immediately. In the 78th minute, Bruno Fernandes put the ball through to Joao Felix, who chipped the ball over Ati Zigi from the right. Just two minutes later, substitute Rafael Leao put the ball back into the net after a Fernandes pass from the inside left.
Ronaldo and Joao Felix were then replaced, but Ghana hadn’t given up yet. Osman Bukari scored with a head in the 89th minute. Elfath showed nine minutes of stoppage time, the Ghanaians tried everything and had a huge chance to equalize in the last few seconds after goalkeeper Diogo Costa was inattentive.
Portugal took the lead in Group H with the win and will face Uruguay on Monday, who drew 0-0 with South Korea in the afternoon. It’s against South Korea on Friday. Ghana play South Korea for the last chance on Monday and Uruguay on Friday. (apa)