Portugal vs Ghana match report
The third game on Day 5 of the 2022 World Cup threatened to be the second consecutive bore draw for Group H. It turned out to be anything but, with Portugal and Ghana playing a thriller.
Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal's attack against Ghana in their opening Group H match on Thursday, his fifth FIFA World Cup appearance.
In the end, Portugal proved they were more than Ronaldo, beating Ghana 3-2 in a frantic thriller that leaped to life following Ronaldo's moment; they have been more than him for a long. However, it is frequently all about him.
Portugal had control of the game in the first half. Portugal struggled in the second half, but they were gifted with a fantastic opportunity when Ronaldo was felled by Mohammed Salisu.
Finally, with a final score of 3-2, Portugal leads the match.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos matched Ronaldo in attack with Felix from Atletico Madrid, while Danilo Pereira teamed with Ruben Dias in defense. Santos picked an offensive formation in midfield, with just Ruben Neves as an anchor.
Portugal took control of the game from the start and came close to turning their early possession dominance into a monetary reward.
The ball was in the net for Ghana just beyond the half-hour mark, thanks to a typically confident Ronaldo finish, but the Portugal captain was assessed to have fouled Alexander Djiku as he twisted on the ball, and the goal was called out.
The 37-year-old Portugal skipper had two chances to score in the first 15 minutes but missed both. He scored from close range in the 31st minute, but only after the referee blew his whistle for an infraction.
Portugal struggled on into the second half, but they were presented with a wonderful opportunity when Ronaldo was felled by Mohammed Salisu.
Kudus pricked Diogo Costa's hands before breaking down the left and hitting a low cross that bounced off Danilo Pereira and dropped nicely for Andre Ayew to turn in from close range.
It was now Portugal's opportunity to respond, and they did so by scoring twice in three minutes to win the game. Bruno Fernandes set up both goals, sneaking passes through the Ghana defense for comfortable finishes from Joao Felix and Rafael Leao, the latter's first international goal.
Ghana had a glimmer of hope when Osman Bukari headed them back into it in the 89th minute and then mocked Ronaldo with his celebration before almost snatching an unlikely draw right at the end, as Inaki Williams cleverly caught out Costa, only to slip at the crucial moment as he tried to nip in ahead of the goalkeeper.
Ronaldo, a free agent after his second tenure at Old Trafford ended suddenly on Tuesday, blasted home a controversial penalty in the 65th minute after the referee pointed to the spot after an innocuous coming together with Mohammed Salisu.
Ghana did little except defend deeply in the first half but gave their raucous crowd at the 974 Stadium something to cheer about when Andre Ayew scored.
For Ronaldo, the outcome means he can now focus on winning one of the few trophies that have escaped him at what will almost certainly be his final World Cup.
Ronaldo (POR) (65 mins, penalty)
Andre Ayew, GHA (73 mins)
Joao Felix, POR (78 mins)
Rafael Leao, POR (80 mins)
Osman Bukari, GHA (89 mins)
Portugal: Diogo Costa, Joao Cancelo, Danilo Pereira, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Otavio, Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Abdul-Rahman Baba, Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Mohammed Salisu, Alidu Seidu, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Andre Ayew, Inaki Williams