Portugal scored goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Rafael Leao to hold for his life and a 3-2 win over Ghana in the 2022 World Cup opener at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar on Thursday.
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The game was scoreless after the hour mark before bursting into life with five goals scored in 24 minutes.
Ronaldo earned and converted the first set 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 get the first shot of the game until the 53rd minute, but the Black Stars came to life from a goal deficit when they equalized in the 73rd minute through Andre Ayew.
Portugal’s response came swiftly and in rapid succession as Joao Felix put Bruno Fernandes’ brilliant ball inside in the 78th minute, and Rafael Leao did the same two minutes later, just three minutes after coming on as a substitute.
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The win moves Portugal to the top of Group H after Thursday’s goalless draw between Uruguay and South Korea.
Slow start, frantic end in a much needed World Cup thriller
Portugal and Ghana are both incredibly strong in central midfield but for an hour it was pretty hard to see because of the traffic jams that surround all those qualities. Ghana started with a back three and five and Portugal with a flat back four, but both teams used a back three in central midfield for very different reasons.
Ghana packed the middle of the park as a roadblock against players like Bernardo Silva, Ruben Neves and Otavio for Portugal. For most of the game, this resulted in a stalemate and few scoring chances for either side. However, Ronaldo’s goal changed things, bringing Ghana out of their shell and forcing them to take risks.
It could be argued (quite easily) that Portugal coach Fernando Santos played into Ghana’s hands blindly (or voluntarily) for much of the game, making things that much harder for his side, but that’s neither here nor there.
[ MORE: Latest Group H standings, schedule, scores ]
How to watch Portugal vs Ghana live, stream link and start time
kicking off: 11 a.m. ET – Thursday, November 24
Stadion: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels in Español: Telemundo
Streaming in Spanish: peacock (all 64 games)
Major storylines, players to watch closely
Portugal have so many incredible midfield and attacking talents that they should go deep in this tournament. Ronaldo is the most important man at the top, but Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao and Bernardo Silva will all be key. Add in the defensive class of Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and the resurgent Diogo Dalot and this is a team packed with talent. In midfield, the inclusion of Ruben Neves, Otavio and Joao Palhinha shows the incredible depth of the squad Fernando Santos has put together. Anything less than the quarterfinals is a disappointment.
A ✨𝗘𝗦𝗧𝗥𝗘𝗜𝗔✨! Este é o nosso 11 Initial para hoje! 👥 #VesteABandeira
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) November 24, 2022
Ghana have plenty of newcomers to their ranks as Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Mohammed Salisu (Southampton) and Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao) have all become Black Stars regulars. Jordan Ayew and Andre Ayew are threats at the top, while Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey beats at the heart of this squad. Watch out for striker Mohammed Kuddus, who is having a good season at Ajax.
𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 ! 🚨
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 24, 2022
Portugal quick facts
Current FIFA World Ranking: 9th
World title: 0
World Cup participations: 8th
How they qualified: Qualified by UEFA via the playoffs
Trainer: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo
Ghana fast facts
Current FIFA World Ranking: 61
World title: 0
World Cup participations: 4th
How They Qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF via the playoffs
Trainer: Otto Addo
Key Players: Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew, Thomas Partey