Cristiano Ronaldo has been dubbed a ‘total genius’ by FIFA’s technical study group after his work to win a penalty against Ghana in Portugal’s opening group game.
The veteran striker went to ground after contact from Southampton defender Mohamed Salisu with the game at 0-0, winning the spot kick which he subsequently converted, but the decision to award a spot kick drew widespread criticism from those watching.
Ghana coach Otto Addo was one of those, telling BeIn after the game that “The referee gave a penalty which was not a penalty - everyone saw that. Why? Because it’s Ronaldo or something?
“The referee was not in our favour.”
However, FIFA’s Sunday Oliseh has branded the work of Ronaldo as genuis rather than playacting, telling some in Doha that:
“The Ronaldo penalty, people can say what they want about him, but the smartness to wait for that second, to touch the ball, continue his leg and then get the contact. That is total genius.
“Let’s give strikers the compliment for getting smarter. VAR is also a major reason why this (more penalties being awarded) is happening. Referees can look at it three or four times.”
The decision allowed Ronaldo to become the first man to score at five separate World Cup finals, and those being hypercritical will point to a goal that he saw ruled out in the first half for a push that was also in the ‘soft’ category.
The goal gave Portugal the impetus in the game, though was cancelled out just five minutes later as the game burst into life and Portugal survived a late scare to hold onto a 3-2 win and move to the top of the Group after matchday 1.