Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been without a club since the decision to part ways with Manchester United after a difficult past few months, has balked his 2022 by being Portugal’s first goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Thursday.
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The 37-year-old striker, who made headlines after criticizing his coach and the English club’s bosses, remained very focused on his country’s goal against Ghana. In tears at the moment of the national anthem, Ronaldo waited until the second half to get going.
Struck off balance by a Ghanaian defender in the penalty area, the star player received the referee’s pardon. He did himself justice by shaking the ropes on his penalty shot in the 65th minute.
Ronaldo became the first man to score in five consecutive World Cups. He now has eight goals in this competition.
Ghana temporarily equalized in the 73rd minute when André Ayew completed Mohammed Kudus’ game. The African country was quickly brought back to earth, however, as Joao Felix and Rafael Leao struck moments later.
Osman Bukari (89′) gave the Ghanaians hope after Ronalo’s (88′) exit, but Portugal fought back in injury time – the Seleçao’s first win at the start of the World Cup since 2006.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup goals
2006: at the Figo relay
Cristiano Ronaldo opened his group stage counterattack against Iran by scoring Portugal’s second goal against Iran (2-0) on penalties. The Seleçao, runners-up two years earlier, will advance to the semi-finals, beaten by France (1-0). But the rising Manchester United star, then 21, would not score again.
The tournament marks the final handover between Figo, who will retire from international football after this World Cup, and Ronaldo.
2010: a winning goal
Ronaldo, with his first of five Ballon d’Ors under his belt (2008), scored just once in South Africa. He signs a gag goal in the group stage against North Korea (7-0) after the ball rolls over his neck and head before recovering to his feet in front of the empty cage…
But Portugal are silent in the other two games against Brazil and Ivory Coast (twice 0-0) and are eliminated in the round of 16 against Spain (1-0). Bitter defeat for the star at Real Madrid: “How do I explain that? “Ask the question to Carlos Queiroz,” the Portuguese coach, he cursed after the elimination.
2014: Brazilian fiasco
Ronaldo had single-handedly led Portugal to the World Cup by scoring his team’s four goals in the play-offs against Sweden (1-0, 3-2).
However, in Brazil, in a strong group, Portugal are humiliated from the start by Germany (4-0) with a transparent Ronaldo and are eliminated in the first round despite a futile final win over Ghana (2-1). CR7 scored the winning goal against the “Black Stars”, but did not celebrate this unique goal of a failed World Cup.
2018: the Spanish jewel
In Russia, Ronaldo started strong, turning the Olympic Stadium in Sochi into his backyard with an exceptional hat-trick that was remembered against Spain (3-3). This makes him the oldest player (33 years and 4 months) to score three goals in a World Cup game.
Ronaldo then continues with another goal against Morocco. But with the World Cup in hand, they slipped back into the round of 16 with a defeat against a realistic Uruguay (2:1). A celeste he finds again this year in Qatar.
2022: a World Cup without a club
In Qatar, Cristiano Ronaldo started the competition in the unusual shoes of a freeman after Manchester United officially announced their split two days before Portugal’s debut against Ghana.
Ronaldo had invited himself to the press the day before to ensure that the open conflict with the Red Devils “does not shake” the Portuguese selection. In any case, he showed his focus on the field with that first goal against Ghana, which came from a penalty.
Richarlison on fire
In Group G, Brazil relied on two goals from Richarlison, including the best of the tournament, in a 2-0 win over Serbia at the Lusail Stadium.
In front of a crowd almost exclusively in their favour, the men in yellow dominated most of the 90 minutes but were long overtaken by Vanja Milinkovic-Savic. Richarlison remedied this, however, by hitting a shot return just after the hour mark.
The best was yet to come. The Tottenham striker, making his first World Cup appearance, controlled a ball served by Vinicius Junior before scoring an acrobatic volley. Surprised, the Serbian keeper couldn’t do anything about it.
The victory allowed the Brazilians to continue their winning streak in the group stage. They haven’t lost at this stage of the competition since 1998.
Uruguay and South Korea mute
Despite some attacking talent, Uruguay and South Korea drew 0-0 on their Group F debut in Qatar at the Al Rayyan Stadium.
South Korea’s star striker Son Heung-min, who sustained a fractured left eye in early November, was in the starting XI. The recently operated Tottenham striker wore a protective mask. Fans were also a little scared when the player lost his boot after a powerful tackle from Martin Caceres.
His clash with strikers Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez for the South American side was interesting, but neither of these tenors hit the mark.
Finally, the most dangerous action came from a defender, Diego Godin. At the height of his 36 years, the Uruguayan with 160 caps let his science of heading from set pieces do the talking, but the post quashed his attempt in the 43rd minute.
Breel Embolo breaks the heart of Cameroon
Switzerland dealt a serious blow to Cameroon’s qualification dreams when they won 1-0 in Doha in a hotly contested 2022 World Cup Group G with Brazil and Serbia.
It’s the eighth consecutive World Cup loss for the Indomitable Lions, who lost to a goal from Cameroon-born forward Breel Embolo. He celebrated his goal as modestly as possible, throwing up his arms in celebration and palming his apologies.
After Embolo’s goal in the 48th minute, Cameroon were hardly more dangerous than the other African selections so far.
“We played with a lot of maturity,” observed Swiss coach Murat Yakin. We are a team that knows each other well and has been playing together for a long time.”
Switzerland are now awaiting their next opponents, Brazil, who meet Serbia later in the day.