Cristiano Ronaldo wrote his name into the history books as Portugal survived a late scare to cling on to three points against as spirited Ghana at Stadium974.
Portugal, who looked short of inspiration against a diligent Ghana side, went the closest in the first half as Cristiano Ronaldo mistimed a header from a corner before he had the ball in the net midway through the first half, only for it to be ruled out for a push on the Ghanaian defender before he curled home.
Ghana went into the break level, and were beginning to grow in the game through Mohamed Kudus before Ronaldo won his side a contentious penalty just after the hour. He promptly dusted himself off and slotted it home, becoming the first person to score in five Men’s World Cups.
Their lead lasted just five minutes, however, as the magnificent Mohamed Kudus found Andre Ayew inside the Portugual six-yard box to prod home an equaliser and become the first African side to score at the 2022 tournament.
The joy was short-lived, however, as a poor error from Baba Rahman allowed Joao Felix to slot home and restore his side’s lead, before Rafael Leao added another minutes after coming off the bench to put Portugal in control.
However, Ghana would not give up easily. Rahman found substitute Bukari to pull one back, and belief coursed through the African side as they headed into nine minutes of added time.
They were very nearly rewarded too, with Inaki Williams tricking Diogo Costa in bizarre fashion with moments to go, only to slip at the vital moment as he looked to level proceedings, allowing Portugal to escape with all three points.
- GK: Diogo Costa - 6: Could do nothing about either goal and, though he looked occasionally shaky, was solid for the most part.
- RB: Joao Cancelo - 3: Looked far from his best and was beaten too easily for Kudus’ equaliser and the second Ghana goal.
- CB: Ruben Dias - 6: Tidy but wasn’t really helped out by those around him.
- CB: Danilo Pereira - 5: Didn’t cover himself in glory for the first goal and lost his man for the second too.
- LB: Raphael Guerrero - 5: Didn’t really get into the game at all, but was solid when called upon.
- CM: Otavio - 5: Struggled to get anything going for Portugal, and was taken off before the hour with injury.
- CM: Ruben Neves - 5: Tidy but ineffective.
- CM: Bruno Fernandes - 7: Like most of his side, he improved as the game went on and ended the night with two assists to go with his customary yellow card.
- RW: Bernardo Silva - 5: Had a very quiet game by his own standards.
- ST: Cristiano Ronaldo - 6: Wasted a pair of good chances in the first half, and went down very easily for a second-half spot-kick.
- LW: Joao Felix - 6: Was entirely ineffective in the first half and was lucky to avoid being substituted. Better in the second and produced a nice finish to restore Portugal’s lead.
- William Carvalho - 6: Brought on for Otavio, he was solid in central midfield.
- Rafael Leao - 7: Grabbed his first goal for his nation as he came off the bench to put the game beyond doubt.
- Joao Palhinha - N/A: Came on for the final three minutes.
- Goncalo Ramos - N/A: Came on for the final three minutes.
- Joao Mario - N/A: Came on for the final three minutes.
- GK: Lawrence Ati-Zigi - 7: Made some good saves in the first half but could do nothing to prevent the three that went past him in the second.
- RWB: Alidu Seidu - 6: Was perhaps lucky to avoid a red card in an altercation with Joao Felix, but was otherwise solid for the Black stars.
- CB: Daniel Amartey - 6: Made a couple of very important tackles in the first half, but was exposed as his side pushed forwards.
- CB: Alexander Dikju - 6: Very little came through the middle of the pitch, with the defender doing his job well.
- CB: Mohamed Salisu - 5: Unfortunate to give away a penalty but was otherwise solid and made one vital block.
- LWB: Baba Rahman- 5: Controlled Cancelo and Bernardo Silva well for the most part but made an awful mistake to allow Joao Felix to restore Portugal’s lead, Partly redeemed himself with a great cross for Ghana’s second but
- CM: Thomas Partey - 6: Patrolled the midfield well but couldn’t showcase his usual passing range.
- CM: Mohammed Kudus - 7: Was Ghana’s brightest spark in the second half after a poor first 45. Bizarrely removed with 15 minutes to go.
- CM: Salis Abdul Samed - 6: Couldn’t really get into the game.
- ST: Inaki Williams - 6: Wasted a glorious chance as he slipped in the final minute of stoppage time, and was otherwise very quiet.
- ST: Andre Ayew - 7: Ghana’s captain didn’t do much until the goal, but was in the right place at the right time to stab home a vital goal.
- Tariq Lamptey - 5: Failed to track Rafael Leao for the third Portugal goal.
- Osman Bukari - 7: Came on just as his side lost control, but grabbed one back with a good header just before added time.
- Jordan Ayew - 5: Didn’t add anything when he came on for his brother.
- Antoine Semenyo - N/A: Came on in added time.
- Daniel Kyereh - N/A: Came on in added time.