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3 Portuguese players who performed and 2 who underperformed against Ghana

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Led by the timeless Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal opened their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 3-2 victory against Group H rivals Ghana at Stadium 974 on Thursday (24 November). Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Rafael Leao scored for Portugal while André Ayew and Osman Bukari netted for Ghana

Portugal dominated the proceedings in the opening exchanges, pushing their full-backs forward to overload the flanks. Portuguese pressure finally unblocked the Ghanaian defense in the 10th minute, when Bernardo Silva took Ronaldo out through the middle. The former Manchester United player, however, failed to control the ball from his first touch, which allowed the goalkeeper to achieve an excellent block.

Three minutes later, Raphael Guerreiro fired an excellent corner from the left. Ronaldo, demonstrating his unparalleled leap, met the delivery, but couldn’t guide it to the target. In the 30th minute, Ronaldo found the back of the net superbly, but the referee penalized the 37-year-old for committing a foul in the build-up.

Portugal looked to end the first half on a high, moving the ball much faster and piling more bodies forward. Ghana, however, held on and entered the break unscathed.

Portugal enjoyed a sharper start to the second half and netted the goal they were looking for in the 65th minute. Their extraordinary captain was knocked down by Mohammed Salisu inside the box, and the referee pointed out the spot without hesitation. Confident as ever, the former Real Madrid player hit the back of the net, becoming the first player to score in five FIFA World Cups.

The Portuguese lead didn’t last long, however, with Ayew equalizing for the underdogs just eight minutes later. Mohammed Kudus rushed in the final third through the inside left channel and fired a low cross for Ayew, who made no mistake returning it from close range.

The 2016 European champions took the hit on the chin and immediately responded with two fine goals. First, in the 78th minute, Félix found the back of the net with a clinical strike from the right side. A few minutes later, substitute Leao beat Ghanaian goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi from the left.

Ghana should have been down after the double whammy but the Africans opted to scare the Iberians in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener. Abdul Rahman Baba lifted a cross from the left to the 89th minute, which deflected on its way to Bukari. The substitute was not mistaken in punishing the goalkeeper at close range.

The Black Stars kept the heavyweights under the cosh for the rest of the match, but just couldn’t find a way through. Here are three Portuguese players who played and two who disappointed against Ghana in the 2022 FIFA World Cup curtain-raiser:


Performer: Joao Felix

Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Portugal – Ghana: Group H – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix struggled to get into the game in the first half as Ghana did everything in their power to neutralize him. He improved considerably in the second 45, linking up well with other Portuguese attackers and scoring a magnificent goal. Receiving a pass from Bruno Fernandes on the right side, Felix cut inside and passed Ati-Zigi.

Difficult for quem não gosta de Félix! 😍😍🦅

Difficult for quem não gosta de Félix! 😍🦅

Goal aside, the FIFA World Cup debutant won four ground duels, delivered an accurate long ball and committed three fouls. He also cleared the ball once and attempted a tackle.


Underperforming: Ruben Neves

Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Portugal – Ghana: Group H – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves endured a tough night against the Black Stars. He struggled to keep up with Kudus’ quick feet, rarely made inroads into the final third and was weak in one-on-one duels.

🚨🚨 Ruben Neves on Cristiano Ronaldo:

“From what I’ve seen in training, he’s in spectacular form. He doesn’t worry us at all, we know perfectly well as a team what we have to work on so that everyone stands out on game day. If we are good as a team, Cristiano will be phenomenal.”

🚨 Ruben Neves on Cristiano Ronaldo: “From what I’ve seen in training, he’s in spectacular form. He doesn’t worry us at all, we know perfectly well as a team what we have to work on so that everything the world stands out on match day. If we are good as a team, Cristiano will be phenomenal.”

Against Ghana, Neves lost five of six duels on the ground, lost the ball five times, was dribbled past three times and committed two fouls.


Performer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Portugal – Ghana: Group H – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Legendary Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo made history against Ghana. Not only did he become the first-ever player to score in five World Cups, but he also became the second-oldest goalscorer (37 years and 292 days) in World Cup history. Cameroonian legend Roger Milla is currently the oldest goalscorer in history (42 years 39 days).

Ronaldo’s historic goal came from the penalty spot in the 65th minute. He put his foot in the ball, giving Ati-Zigi no chance. Apart from his miss in the 10th minute, the Real Madrid legend had an admirable game.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the first player to score in FIVE different Men’s World Cups 🖐️

Cristiano Ronaldo is the first player to score in FIVE different Men’s World Cups 🖐️

Penalty aside, Ronaldo has won three ground duels and two aerial duels; fired three fouls and made a clearance.


Underperforming: Joao Cancelo

Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Portugal – Ghana: Group H – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo can be a real handful from time to time. Luckily for Ghana, they weren’t at their best on Thursday. Cancelo was partly responsible for Ghana’s opener in the 73rd minute. He was embarrassingly out of position which allowed Kudus to burst into the Portugal box virtually unchallenged and set up Ayew.

Cancelo starts Dalot again… Santos cannot be a serious man.

Cancelo starts Dalot again… Santos cannot be a serious man.

Cancelo also didn’t create any scoring chances, lost the ball 15 times, lost two duels on the ground and misplaced a cross.


Performer: Bruno Fernandes

Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022Portugal - Ghana: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Portugal – Ghana: Group H – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes was the best Portuguese player at the 974 stadium on Thursday night. His passing was on point, he linked up superbly with his teammates and provided two fine assists.

First, he passed the ball to Felix on the right side in the 78th minute. The Atletico striker came in and applied an emphatic finish. A few minutes later, he assisted Leao with a perfectly weighted pass into the left channel.

Bruno Fernandes with two assists in two minutes to go from 1-1 to 3-1 🪄

Bruno Fernandes with two assists in two minutes to go from 1-1 to 3-1 🪄 https://t.co/oK5AMFRF9k

In the Group H opener, Fernandes provided three assists, created two great chances, delivered five accurate long balls and made four fouls.

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Edited by Sushan Chakraborty
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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org