Portugal scored goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Rafael Leão and held on tight to a 3-2 victory over Ghana in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup at the 974 Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Thursday.
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The game was scoreless past the hour mark before it exploded with five goals in 24 minutes.
Ronaldo earned and converted the first penalty in the 65th minute, becoming the first male player to score in five different World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022). Ghana didn’t make their first shot of the game until the 53rd minute, but the Black Stars came to life after scoring a goal as they leveled against André Ayew in the 73rd minute.
Portugal responded quickly and consistently, with Joao Felix scoring a brilliant Bruno Fernandes goal in the 78th minute and Rafael Leão doing the same two minutes later, just three minutes after coming off the bench.
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The win puts Portugal in first place in Group H after a goalless draw between Uruguay and South Korea earlier on Thursday.
Slow start, crazy ending in much-needed World Cup thriller
Portugal and Ghana are incredibly strong in central midfield, but for an hour it was pretty hard to see because of the crowds surrounding all that quality. Ghana started the game with three back/-five and Portugal with four backs, but both sides opted for a trio in central midfield for very different reasons.
Ghana filled the middle of the park as a checkpoint against the likes of Bernardo Silva, Rubén Neves and Portugal’s Otavio. For most of the game, this led to a stalemate and few scoring chances for both sides. However, Ronaldo’s goal changed the situation, pulling Ghana out of their shell and forcing them to take risks.
It could be argued (quite easily) that Portugal boss Fernando Santos blindly (or voluntarily) played into Ghana’s hands for most of the game and thus made things much more difficult for his team, but that’s not the case.
[ MORE: Latest Group H standings, schedule, scores ]
How to watch Portugal vs Ghana live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 11:00 AM ET – Thursday, November 24th
Stadium: 974 Stadium, Doha
TV channels in Spanish: Telemundo
Broadcast in Spanish: peacock (all 64 matches)
Key storylines, players to keep an eye on
Portugal have so many incredible talents in midfield and attack that they need to go deep in this tournament. Ronaldo is the main player at the top, but Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva will all be key. Throw in the defensive class of Ruben Diaz, Joao Cancelo and a resurgent Diogo Dalot and you have a talented team. The inclusion in midfield of Ruben Neves, Otavio and Joao Paligny shows the incredible strength of the team that Fernando Santos has put together. Anything less than a quarter-final is a disappointment.
And ✨𝗘𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗘𝗜𝗔✨! Este é o nosso 11 Starting point hoje! 👥 #VesteBandeira
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 24, 2022
Ghana has many recent additions to its ranks as Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Mohammed Salisu (Southampton) and Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao) have become Black Stars regulars. Jordan Ayew and André Ayew are threats at the top and Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is the focus of this team. Keep an eye out for forward Mohammed Quddus who is having a good season at Ajax.
𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 ! 🚨
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 24, 2022
Quick facts about Portugal
Current FIFA World Ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Championship appearances: 8
How they got out: they left UEFA through the playoffs.
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo.
Quick facts about Ghana
Current FIFA World Ranking: 61
World Cup titles: 0
World Championship appearances: 4
How they qualified: Automatically qualified from CAF via playoffs.
Coach: Otto Addo
Key Players: Jordan Ayew, André Ayew, Thomas Partey.