Cristiano Ronaldo carved out another piece of history when he opened the scoring in Portugal’s 3-2 Group H win over Ghana at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The former Manchester United star scored the 118th goal of a remarkable career in international football with a second-half penalty to break the deadlock, and Ghanaian hearts, just after the hour mark.
Already the top scorer in the history of international football, Ronaldo’s spot-kick made him the first male player to score in five different World Cups, and also the second-oldest goalscorer in a World Cup final. .
The 37-year-old star, who endured a strange few weeks after conducting an interview with British TV host Piers Morgan that ultimately resulted in his split from Manchester United this week, missed two opportunities in what was a pedestrian 45 first minutes from both sides.
The game exploded into life, however, just after the hour mark when Ronaldo was dragged into the box by Mohammed Salisu and he duly sent the penalty past Lawrence Ati-Zigi.
What followed was perhaps the most dramatic 35 minutes (including extended added time) of the World Cup so far.
Seven minutes later, Ghana skipper Andre Ayew took advantage of a calamitous defense to equalize at one apiece, before Joao Felix restored Portugal’s lead two minutes later.
Milan star Rafael Leao appeared to have killed the game two minutes later, picking a vital moment to score his first-ever goal for Portugal.
But the drama was far from over.
As the clock continued to tick, Ghanaian substitute Osman Bukari benefited from more terrible defending from Portugal as he nodded at the far post – and remarkably executed Ronaldo’s trademark celebration immediately afterwards as the clock was entering stoppage time – to make the score 3- 2.
The extra nine minutes signaled by the referee’s assistant gave Ghana the platform for what would have been an unlikely equalizer on the balance of play – and they nearly found one in the dying seconds after the Portuguese goalkeeper Meireles da Costa almost gave Ghana a point. .
Da Costa, killing time before clearing a ball upwards, failed to notice Ghanaian Inaki Williams trailing behind him as he placed the ball on the Turkish before attempting to kick upwards, with only a unfortunate slip from the Athletic Bilbao man denying him the chance to roll the ball into an empty net in the 100th minute of the game.
Ultimately, however, the script had been written for Cristiano Ronaldo to make a difference – and the striker duly delivered, just as he has at the previous four World Cups.