Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score at five World Cups as Portugal began their 2022 World Cup with a winning start following a late flurry of second-half goals.
A match that saw five goals scored in the second half ended 3-2 in Portugal’s favour.
The first half saw a dominating Portugal performance, although they appeared slightly toothless in front of goal.
Ronaldo, who looked emotional during the national anthems before kick off, had the best chance in the opening 45 minutes as he was played through on goal. His heavy touch, however, meant the ball evaded him and he was unable to poke past the Ghana No 1.
To sum up the first half being a one-sided affair, Portugal attempted (385) and completed (352) their highest number of passes in the opening 45 minutes of a World Cup match.
On the other hand, Ghana did not have an attempt at goal or a touch in the Portugal box in that period — even when they won those two corners, they did not touch the ball in the opposition’s area.
Only once previously since records began (1966) has a side failed to have a shot or a touch in the opposition box in the first half of a World Cup match – Saudi Arabia against France in 1998.
That all changed in the second half, however, when Ronaldo was upended by Salisu in the Ghana box after 65 minutes, and the former Manchester United striker stepped up duly to tuck his effort away.
Ghana became the first African nation to score at this World Cup, however, when Andre Ayew swept home on the 73 minute mark. Portugal regained their lead instantly, however, when Felix extended the advantage after a swift counter-attack.
Thomas Partey lost possession and suddenly Felix pulled away before a composed finish put his nation in front.
Portugal began to unleash the shackles and were rewarded when Rafael Leao scored with his first touch, placing Bruno Fernandes’ beautifully weighted through ball into the far corner.
Ghana caused more nervous moments for Fernando Santos’ side and Bukari’s late header ensured a tense finish.
However, the Euro 2016 champions held on after nine additional minutes for the three points.
The key moment from Portugal vs Ghana
Although much more happened after that in the match, Ronaldo’s penalty brought the game to life.
The captain was brought down by Salisu, in what appeared to be an extremely lenient decision. He then smashed his effort into the top corner, to the keeper’s right, giving him no chance even though he dove the right way.
Player of the match — Bruno Fernandes
In a game where his former Manchester United will likely take the headlines once again, Fernandes demonstrated his industriousness blended with decisive quality throughout the game.
The 28-year-old’s ability to orchestrate majority of Portugal’s attack, in a forward line flooded with talent, speaks volumes of his ability, which he demonstrated in abundance on the night.
Portugal vs Ghana key statistic
He might not have been the star of the show, but its hard to look beyond the staggering statistic of Cristiano Ronaldo scoring at his fifth World Cup, becoming the first man to do so.
Startlingly, Felix was six years old and Leao was seven years old when Ronaldo scored his first goal for Portugal.
What does it mean?
It puts Portugal, the group favourites, in a strong position after Uruguay and South Korea played out a goalless draw earlier in the day.
For Ghana, winning today’s fixture was always going to be a tall order but they can be satisfied with how they performed for large portions of the game and will maintain some hope of qualifying out of Group H.
Both sides have four days to rest up before they are in action again.
South Korea takes on Ghana on Monday, November 28, which will kick off at 1pm GMT. Portugal face Uruguay later in the day at 7pm.
(Photo: Getty Images)