Spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal opened their 2022 FIFA World Cup marketing campaign with a 3-2 win towards Group H rivals Ghana at Stadium 974 on Thursday (24 November). Ronaldo, Joao Felix, and Rafael Leao scored for Portugal whereas Andre Ayew and Osman Bukari netted for Ghana
Portugal dominated proceedings within the opening exchanges, pushing their fullbacks ahead to overload the flanks. The Portuguese stress ultimately unlocked the Ghanaian protection within the tenth minute, when Bernardo Silva launched Ronaldo via the center. The previous Manchester United man, nonetheless, did not carry the ball below management together with his first contact, which allowed the keeper to make a superb block.
Three minutes later, Raphael Guerreiro floated a superb nook from the left. Ronaldo, demonstrating his unmatched leap, met the supply, however couldn’t information it on course. Within the thirtieth minute, Ronaldo beautifully discovered the again of the online, however the referee penalized the 37-year-old for committing a foul within the build-up.
Portugal regarded to shut the primary half brightly, shifting the ball round significantly faster and piling extra our bodies ahead. Ghana, nonetheless, held agency and went into the break unscathed.
Portugal had a extra energetic begin to the second half and obtained the purpose they have been searching for within the sixty fifth minute. Their captain extraordinaire was introduced down by Mohammed Salisu contained in the field, and the referee unhesitantly pointed to the spot. Assured as ever, the previous Actual Madrid man hit the again of the online, changing into the first-ever participant to attain in 5 FIFA World Cups.
The Portuguese lead didn’t final for lengthy, nonetheless, with Ayew equalizing for the underdogs simply eight minutes later. Mohammed Kudus dashed into the ultimate third via the left-inside channel and delivered a low cross for Ayew, who made no mistake turning it in from shut vary.
The 2016 European champions took the blow on their chin and instantly responded with two nice targets. First, within the 78th minute, Felix discovered the again of the online via a medical strike from the best facet. A few minutes later, substitute Leao beat Ghanian shot-stopper Lawrence Ati-Zigi from the left.
Ghana ought to have been down and out after the double whammy, however the Africans selected to present the Iberians an actual scare of their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener. Abdul Rahman Baba lifted a cross from the left within the 89th minute, which took a deflection on its method to Bukari. The substitute made no mistake punishing the keeper from shut vary.
The Black Stars stored the heavyweights below the cosh for the rest of the sport however simply couldn’t discover a means via. Listed here are three Portuguese gamers who carried out and two who dissatisfied towards Ghana of their 2022 FIFA World Cup curtain-raiser:
Carried out: Joao Felix
Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix struggled to get into the sport within the first half, with Ghana doing all the pieces of their energy to neutralize him. He improved significantly within the second 45, linking up effectively with different Portuguese forwards and scoring a surprising purpose. Receiving a go from Bruno Fernandes on the best facet, Felix lower inside and sidefooted his effort previous Ati-Zigi.
The purpose apart, the FIFA World Cup debutant received 4 floor duels, delivered an correct lengthy ball, and drew three fouls. He additionally cleared the ball as soon as and tried a sort out.
Underperformed: Ruben Neves
Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves endured a troublesome night towards the Black Stars. He struggled to maintain up with Kudus’ fast ft, hardly ever made inroads within the last third, and was weak in one-on-one duels.
In opposition to Ghana, Neves misplaced 5 of six floor duels, misplaced possession 5 occasions, was dribbled previous thrice, and dedicated two fouls.
Carried out: Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal’s legendary ahead Cristiano Ronaldo made historical past towards Ghana. Not solely did he grow to be the first-ever participant to attain in 5 World Cups, however he additionally turned the second-oldest goalscorer (37 years 292 days) in World Cup historical past. Cameroonian legend Roger Milla is presently the oldest goalscorer in historical past (42 years 39 days).
Ronaldo’s history-making purpose got here from the penalty spot within the sixty fifth minute. He put his foot via the ball, giving Ati-Zigi no likelihood in anyway. Aside from his miss within the tenth minute, the Actual Madrid legend had an admirable sport.
The penalty apart, Ronaldo received three floor duels and two aerial duels; drew three fouls, and carried out a clearance.
Underperformed: Joao Cancelo
Manchester Metropolis fullback Joao Cancelo generally is a actual handful on his day. Fortunately for Ghana, he was not at his good finest on Thursday. Cancelo was partially at fault for Ghana’s opener within the 73rd minute. He was embarrassingly out of place, which allowed Kudus to barge into Portugal’s field virtually unchallenged and arrange Ayew.
Cancelo additionally didn’t create any goalscoring alternatives, misplaced possession 15 occasions, misplaced two floor duels, and misplaced a cross.
Carried out: Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes was the very best Portuguese participant at Stadium 974 on Thursday night time. His passing was on level, he linked up beautifully with teammates, and supplied two positive assists.
First, he performed the ball via to Felix down the right-hand facet within the 78th minute. The Atletico ahead got here inside and utilized an emphatic end. A few minutes later, he assisted Leao with a perfectly-weighted go down the left-hand channel.
Within the Group H opener, Fernandes supplied three key passes, created two massive probabilities, delivered 5 correct lengthy balls, and drew 4 fouls.