Cristiano Ronaldo became the first man to score in five World Cups as Portugal finally saw off Ghana to open Group H with a win in a five-goal thriller.
Portugal took control of the match from the first whistle, and nearly turned their early dominance of possession into a tangible reward — Ronaldo being thwarted by Lawrence Ati-Zigi, before heading wide at the far post a few moments later.
The ball was in the Ghana net just past the half-hour mark, via a typically assured Ronaldo finish, but the Portugal captain was adjudged to have fouled Alexander Djiku as he spun on the ball, and the strike was ruled out.
Portugal continued to toil into the second half but out of the blue they were handed a golden opportunity when Ronaldo was felled by Mohammed Salisu and stepped up to smash in his 118th international goal from the spot. Ghana responded strongly. Kudus stung the palms of Diogo Costa before getting away down the left and delivering a low cross that deflected off Danilo Pereira and fell perfectly for Andre Ayew to turn the ball in from close range.
This time it was Portugal’s turn to find an answer, and they duly struck twice in three minutes to win it. Bruno Fernandes was the architect of both, slipping passes through the Ghana backline for assured finishes from first Joao Felix and then Rafael Leao, the latter’s first international goal.
Ghana did have renewed hope when Osman Bukari headed them back into it in the 89th minute — and then mocked Ronaldo with his celebration — before they almost snatched an unlikely draw right at the end, as Inaki Williams cleverly caught out Costa, only to slip at the crucial moment as he tried to nip in ahead of the goalkeeper.
For Ronaldo, the result means he is off and running in his bid to win one of the few trophies that has eluded him, in what will surely be his last World Cup.
It also put a different context on a difficult week, after his contract with Manchester United was terminated following his explosive, and highly critical, interview with Piers Morgan.
The Sporting News tracked live scoring updates and highlights for Portugal vs Ghana at the 2022 World Cup. You can catch up with all the action as it happened from the Group H match in Qatar below. POR — Ronaldo (65 mins, penalty)
GHA — Andre Ayew (73 mins)
POR — Joao Felix (78 mins)
POR — Rafael Leao (80 mins)
GHA — Osman Bukari (89 mins)
Portugal (4-1-2-1-2, right to left): 22. Costa (GK) — 20. Cancelo, 4. Dias, 13. Danilo Pereira, 5. Guerreiro — 18. Neves (Rafael Leao 77′) — 8. Fernandes, 25. Otavio (14. William Carvalho 56′) — 10. Bernardo Silva (6. Joao Palhinha 88′) — 7. Ronaldo (26. Goncalo Ramos 88′), 11. Joao Felix (17. Joao Mario 88′) Ghana (5-4-1, right to left): 1. Ati-Zigi (GK) — 26. Seidu (2. Lamptey 66′), 23. Djiku (25. Semenyo 90+2′), 18. Amartey, 4. Salisu, 17. Rahman — 20. Kudus (11. Bukari 77′), 5. Partey, 21. Abdul Samed (8. Kyereh 90+2′), 10. A. Ayew (9. J. Ayew 77′) — 19. Williams.
Portugal vs Ghana as it happened, highlights from 2022 World Cup FULLTIME: It’s all over and Portugal have held on, just, to open the World Cup with a win for the first time since 2006. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot and Joao Felix and Rafael Leao looked to have made the game safe after Anre Ayew’s equaliser, but the European side had to survive a grandstand finish to pocket the three points.
90+10 mins: What on earth is happening! Diogo Costa doesn’t see the Inaki Williams lurking behind him and the Ghana striker nips in after the ball is left on the floor, but slips at the crucial moment and Portugal are able to scramble it away!
90+8 mins: A heart in mouth moment for Diogo Costa, who’s scrambling across his goal after Osman Bukari tries his luck from the left side. The ball is, just, wide, to the relief of the Portugal goalkeeper.
90+4 mins: Portugal are trying to run down the clock here, and timewasting is definitely becoming an issue, but the referee looks to be wise to it. That nine extra minutes could be extended even further.
90+1 mins: Inaki Williams is in the book for retaliating after being fouled by Danilo Pereira, and we’re into NINE minutes of added time. Don’t go anywhere!
GOAL! 89 mins: Hello! Out of nothing, Ghana have one back, Baba Rahman’s persistence paying off down the left and his cross looping up for Osman Bukari to head in at the far post!
88 mins: Two of Portugal’s three goalscorers depart as Ronaldo and Joao Felix are replaced for the final stages.
83 mins: Ronaldo gets away again, bursting ahead of the defence only to be foiled by Lawrence Ati-Zigi, at which point the offside flag goes up.
GOAL! 80 mins: Surely that’s that now! Bruno Fernandes carries the ball from just inside his own half and times his pass perfectly, sliding a perfectly-weighted pass through to Rafael Leao, who applies the finish for his first international goal.
GOAL! 78 mins: Portugal are back in front! Bruno Fernandes spots a gap in the Ghana defence and slips a pass through for Joao Felix on the right, and the Atletico Madrid forward lifts a fine finish over the advancing Lawrence Ati-Zigi. 77 mins: Two changes for Ghana and one for Portugal. Rafael Leao is on for Ruben Neves, while Jordan Ayew and Osman Bukari are on for Ghana.
GOAL! 73 mins: Ghana are level now though! And it is Mohammed Kudus at the heart of it, getting down the left and pulling back a cross that nicks off Danilo Pereira and falls perfectly for Andrew Ayew to slot in from close range. 72 mins: If Ghana are to get back into this, Mohammed Kudus is surely going to be the man mostly likely to provide it, stinging the palms of Diogo Costa with a fierce drive from range.