Bruno assists put Ghana down for the count
Fernando Santos’ Portugal side ended a run of three opening World Cup matches without a win during the Seleção’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha.
As had been the case heading into the tournament, it was Cristiano Ronaldo at the heart of the action early on, and it looked as if the 37-year-old had put Portugal ahead midway through the first period, only for referee Ismail Elfath to rule the goal out. A drab first half then ensued, with defences firmly on top, and the game never initially looked like emulating the only prior H2H, when Portugal ousted Ghana 2-1 in Brazil eight years ago.
But despite the off-field circus surrounding his future, Ronaldo once again stepped up for Portugal in the second period and ignited the match, netting the opener from 12 yards. Having been tripped by Mohammed Salisu inside the penalty area, the outcome from that point on seemed inevitable, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner tucking home an unstoppable penalty high into the left corner – a goal which additionally made Ronaldo the first player in history to score in five different World Cups.
That sparked what had been an otherwise dull affair into life, with André Ayew netting from close range to restore parity just eight minutes later. Ayew, who has now featured in more World Cup games than any other current African player, was on hand to tap home Mohammed Kudus’ cutback and send the Black Star faithful into raptures.
In sharp contrast to the first half, the goals continued to flow. Firstly for Portugal, who netted twice in under three minutes to give themselves clear daylight, when João Félix’s delicate lob was complemented by Rafael Leão’s tidy right-footed finish, with both goals created by Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes.
It should’ve given Portugal the cushion they needed to comfortably see the game out, but a relentless Ghana cut the deficit late on. Osman Bukari lept highest inside the penalty area to head home the Black Star’s second of the game. But despite being granted nine minutes of added time, Ghana were unable to find an equaliser, meaning all five African sides will end round one of the group stage without a victory.