Cristiano Ronaldo took the center stage in this challenge against Ghana and was ably supported by his world-class teammates in the group H opener.
Before this match, no African representatives had won any match or scored a single goal so the 3-2 end result broke the “no goal” jinx for the continent. Even more refreshing was the fact that the black stars were the least-rated and youngest team of the tournament but were amazingly the first to break the jinx.
The entire match had everything; controversial decisions, fireworks, and fantastic football. Every minute of the match was sensational.
The 1st foul of the game was committed by Ronaldo in the 2nd minute of the match. In the 5th minute, Otavio missed scoring a right-footed shot from outside of the box. Ruben Neves’ right-footed shot was blocked by the black stars in the 6th minute. Another attempt by Ronaldo assisted by Otavio was stopped in the 10th minute.
The 1st half ended without a goal from both side. Portugal missed three goal attempts and committed 8 fouls. Ghana ended it with 10 fouls, 1 yellow card was issued to Mohammed Kudus in the 45th minute for a foul.
The second half started with serial fouls from the two teams in the 48th and 49th minutes, evidence of the intensity of the battle between them. Ronaldo won a free kick in the 52nd minute from a foul by Alidu Seidu but it wasn’t converted.
The first substitution of the match was William Calvalio replacing Otavio having sustained an injury. In the 57th minute, Alidu Seidu of Ghana got a yellow card, his third foul in the match.
Portugal took the lead with a brilliantly taken penalty kick by Cristiano Ronaldo in the 62nd minute demoralizing the black stars and their supporters for a while. Mohammed Salisu had committed a foul (considered a soft touch by some experts) in the penalty area against Ronaldo. The famous number 7 became the first man to score in 5 world cups.
In the 67th and 69th minute, the black stars had a blocked and missed attempt at goal respectively courtesy of Inaki and Partey in that order. In the 73rd minute, Andre Ayew put an end to the Portuguese lead with a well-delivered goal, the first for an African team in Qatar.
More goals came in for Portugal in the 78th and 80th minutes by Joao Felix and Rafael Leao respectively dashing any hope that might have existed for the African team.
In the 89th minute, Bukari scored a second goal for Ghana giving some sense of hope again which was further reinforced by the 9 minutes of extra time added by Referee Ismail Elfath. In the tense period of extra time, Portugal held on to the 1-goal lead that secured the much coveted 3 points for them in the group which also puts them at the top of the group.
From the show of fantastic football displayed today by the Ghanaians, the probability of them progressing to the next round is very high to the delight of their supporters.