Match ends, Portugal 3, Ghana 2.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score at five Fifa World Cups as Portugal began their campaign with a thrilling victory over Ghana.
Ronaldo was playing for the first time since his controversial television interview last week and his subsequent release by Manchester United following the comments.
And the 37-year-old scored the opening goal from the penalty spot, hammering in after being tripped in the box by Ghana’s Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu.
Captain Ronaldo had a couple of chances early on but a low shot was smothered by Lawrence Ati-Zigi and he also headed wide at the far post.
The forward had a goal disallowed for a push on Alexander Djiku while at the other end, Ghana did not have a single shot in the opening period.
The Africans improved in the second period as Mohammed Kudus drilled narrowly wide of the far post and got their reward when Andre Ayew equalised from close range.
But Portugal responded with two goals in two minutes to seal the points – Joao Felix converting a delightfully clipped finish and substitute Rafael Leao coolly stroking in just seconds after coming on.
Osman Bukhari headed in a late consolation for Ghana and there could have been real drama in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Goalkeeper Diogo Costa put the ball down, seemingly unaware Inaki Williams was behind him, but after racing to intercept the ball, the Ghana forward slipped at the crucial moment and a scuffed shot was cleared off the line.
Victory means Portugal top Group H after Uruguay and South Korea played out a goalless draw earlier on Thursday.
Ronaldo hogs the headlines again
The focus before this game was on just one man – Ronaldo.
The veteran forward came into the tournament with a cloud over his head following the explosive TalkTV interview where he said he felt “betrayed” by Manchester United.
Unhappy with what he had to say, the Premier League club initiated a process to terminate his contract, which was confirmed on Tuesday.
But the player will be in the headlines for all the right reasons this time, as he surpassed the great Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose to stand on his own by scoring at five different editions of the tournament.
Supporters were on their feet in anticipation every time Ronaldo got anywhere near the ball and they erupted when his strike from the penalty spot in the second half – which came after relatively easy missed opportunities in the opening period – hit the back of the net.
It was also a record-extending 118th international goal, which includes eight in the group stage of the World Cup, though he is the player with the most strikes without netting in the knockout stage.
Former West Ham and Swansea striker Ayew levelled from Mohammed Kudus’ cutback to extend Ghana’s run of scoring in their last six World Cup games.
Felix’s sumptuous finish and Leao’s nerveless effort looked to have sealed the points for Portugal with 10 minutes remaining.
Substitute Bukari headed in and celebrated with Ronaldo’s ‘Siu’. Otto Addo’s side would have been delighted with a draw and almost got it, but for Williams’ slip.
Player of the match
Squad number8Player nameBruno FernandesAverage rating
Squad number15Player nameRafael LeãoAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameBernardo SilvaAverage rating
Squad number18Player nameRúben NevesAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameJoão FélixAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameRúben DiasAverage rating
Squad number14Player nameWilliam CarvalhoAverage rating
Squad number20Player nameJoão CanceloAverage rating
Squad number6Player nameJoão PalhinhaAverage rating
Squad number17Player nameJoão MárioAverage rating
Squad number7Player nameCristiano RonaldoAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameRaphaël GuerreiroAverage rating
Squad number25Player nameOtávioAverage rating
Squad number26Player nameGonçalo RamosAverage rating
Squad number13Player nameDanilo PereiraAverage rating
Squad number22Player nameDiogo CostaAverage rating
Squad number2Player nameLampteyAverage rating
Squad number5Player nameParteyAverage rating
Squad number10Player nameA AyewAverage rating
Squad number20Player nameKudusAverage rating
Squad number4Player nameSalisuAverage rating
Squad number1Player nameAti-ZigiAverage rating
Squad number25Player nameSemenyoAverage rating
Squad number18Player nameAmarteyAverage rating
Squad number17Player nameBabaAverage rating
Squad number11Player nameBukariAverage rating
Squad number21Player nameAbdul SamedAverage rating
Squad number23Player nameDjikuAverage rating
Squad number26Player nameSeiduAverage rating
Squad number19Player nameWilliamsAverage rating
Squad number9Player nameJ AyewAverage rating
Squad number8Player nameKyerehAverage rating
- 22Meireles da Costa
- 4Rúben Dias
- 13DaniloBooked at 90mins
- 10Bernardo SilvaSubstituted forJoão Palhinhaat 88′minutes
- 18NevesSubstituted forda Conceição Leãoat 77′minutes
- 25OtávioSubstituted forWilliam Carvalhoat 56′minutes
- 8Bruno FernandesBooked at 90mins
- 7Cristiano RonaldoSubstituted forMatias Ramosat 88′minutes
- 11Félix SequeiraSubstituted forJoão Márioat 88′minutes
- 1Rui Patrício
- 6João Palhinha
- 9André Silva
- 14William Carvalho
- 15da Conceição Leão
- 17João Mário
- 21da Luz Horta
- 24Pereira de Albuquerque Tavares da Silva
- 26Matias Ramos
- 26SeiduBooked at 57minsSubstituted forLampteyat 66′minutes
- 23DjikuSubstituted forKyerehat 90+2′minutes
- 20KudusBooked at 45minsSubstituted forBukariat 77′minutes
- 21Abdul SamedSubstituted forSemenyoat 90+2′minutes
- 10A AyewBooked at 49minsSubstituted forJ Ayewat 77′minutes
- 19WilliamsBooked at 90mins
- 9J Ayew
- Ismail Elfath
Second Half ends, Portugal 3, Ghana 2.
Attempt missed. Osman Bukari (Ghana) right footed shot from long range on the left is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordan Ayew.
Gonçalo Ramos (Portugal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Daniel Amartey (Ghana).
Attempt blocked. Rafael Leão (Portugal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by João Palhinha.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Bruno Fernandes (Portugal).
Osman Bukari (Ghana) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Bruno Fernandes (Portugal) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Osman Bukari (Ghana).
Substitution, Ghana. Daniel-Kofi Kyereh replaces Alexander Djiku.
Substitution, Ghana. Antoine Semenyo replaces Salis Abdul Samed.
Attempt missed. Mohammed Salisu (Ghana) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Thomas Partey.
Danilo Pereira (Portugal) is shown the yellow card.
Iñaki Williams (Ghana) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Danilo Pereira (Portugal).
Iñaki Williams (Ghana) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Portugal 3, Ghana 2. Osman Bukari (Ghana) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner.
Substitution, Portugal. João Palhinha replaces Bernardo Silva.