Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted his chapter at Manchester United is ‘closed’ after making World Cup history just two days after cutting ties at Old Trafford to help Portugal beat Ghana 3-2 in their Group H opener.
Ronaldo, who is a free agent after his acrimonious split with United, became the first player to score in five World Cup finals when he cleared Portugal’s first from the penalty spot.
Andre Ayew’s equalizer appeared to briefly spoil Portugal’s party, but a quick brace from Joao Felix and substitute Rafael Leao restored the lead before Osman Bukari struck a late second for Ghana.
Speaking in Portuguese, which has been translated by FIFA, Ronaldo said: “It was a beautiful moment in my fifth World Cup.
“We started with our good foot. It’s very important to win. We know that in these competitions our first game is crucial. But also, being the only first player in five World Cups to score is something that makes me very proud.
“I’m very happy that the team got a good result, it was a tough game but a good result.”
Ronaldo, who was named official player of the match, answered just one question from reporters, only briefly discussing his falling out with United.
“It was an important step and we won,” he said. “It’s been a week since this chapter ended, it’s closed. We wanted to start on the right foot. We won, I was able to help my team – and everything else doesn’t matter.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos hailed Ronaldo’s influence.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, one of the best scorers of all time,” Santos told a press conference. “His achievements, one of the best players in the world, one of the best players of all time.
“Cristiano is a phenomenal legend, like many others have come and gone. In 50 years we will still be talking about him. We are talking about Pelé and Maradona who played 50 years ago and so I think we going to keep talking about Ronaldo like the other players I talk about.”
While Uruguay and South Korea previously played a goalless draw, Portugal took control of Group H.
said Santos. “It was a difficult match from the first half, we had control, but we should have been more assertive. After the first 15 minutes, we couldn’t compose our rhythm. We could create three or four situations.
“Having said that, I think we should have had more control, more fluidity because I think our players are capable of being better. You also have to give credit to the opposition because they played a very good game. .
Ghana coach Otto Addo felt his side had been given a bit of a rough ride.
“We did really well and until the penalty everything was possible,” he said. “We allowed fewer chances – there were two or three half chances from Portugal. Then (after the penalty), the game got a little wild.
“Inaki (Williams) at the end could have scored the third goal, but Portugal are one of the highest ranked football teams in the world and I think we did really well.”
Addo, however, was less than impressed with the referee’s decision not to check the penalty incident during the VAR review.
“We were playing the ball and then there was contact between the players,” he said.
“I don’t know what they (officials) were doing, if they weren’t paying attention or if the VAR was paying attention. I watched that scene at the time, it was just amazing. If you do a replay and you watch it again, we were playing the ball, it was actually a foul against us.