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Portugal survive Ghana scare to clinch opening World Cup win

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Ronaldo celebrates his opening goal against Ghana. PHOTO/FIFA
  • Portugal started their campaign with a 3-2 win over Ghana
  • They scored two goals in two minutes
  • Inaki Williams would have grabbed a point for Ghana at the death

Ghana’s Black Stars became the first African country to score at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they still couldn’t conjure a win as they suffered a slim 3-2 loss against former European champions Portugal in Doha on Thursday night.

Skipper Andre Dede Ayew levelled for Ghana after Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty had given Portugal the lead. The African side however collapsed in two minutes as Joao Felix and Raphael Leao scored twice.

Osman Bukari’s 89th minute goal made for some nervous moments for the Portuguese, but they held on for a vital three points in Group H.

The first half was cagey and closely contested. Cristiano had two early chances. His first was one on one with the keeper when he ran through on goal, but his first touch was heavy allowing the keeper to close down on him.

Cristiano with the ball inside the net

Cristiano Ronaldo in action against Ghana. PHOTO/FIFA

He had the ball in the net minutes later, but the goal was ruled out for a foul in the build-up.

Ghana had kept a compact defensive shape, and at the end of the opening 45 minutes, they had only managed 38pc of the possession.

In the second half, they started well and star boy Mohamed Kudus had the first real chance at goal when he drove to the edge of the box from the middle of the pack, but his rasping low shot went inches wide.

Against the run of play, Portugal opened the lead. Mohamed Salisu fouled Ronaldo as he drove into the box and the ref pointed straight to the spot. The veteran forward stepped up and scored the resultant spot kick with pace and power, becoming the first man to score in five consecutive World Cups.

Ayew equalizes for Ghana

Dede Ayew celebrates his goal against Portugal. PHOTO/FIFA

In the 73rd minute, just eight minutes after Ronaldo had taken Portugal ahead, Ghana equalized when Ayew slotted the ball from close range after Kudus’s cross from the left had evaded the defense. The goal came just minutes after the Ajax midfielder had taken a sublime long ranger which was saved by the keeper.

Ghana’s technical bench made changes, bringing off Kudus and Ayew, but it is right after these two substitutions that they collapsed.

Felix made it 2-1 in the 78th minute with a delightful chip over the keeper after running to a through ball before substitute Leao slotted home from the left just two minutes later.

Everything seemed to have collapsed for the Black Stars as Portugal pulled away to comfortable distance, but they were made to live on the edges of their seats in the 89th minute when Bukari, who had come on for Kudus headed home unmarked inside the six yard box from a cross on the left.

The goal gave Ghana some belief and with nine minutes of added time, they pushed to get an equalizer. At the death, they would have done so when Inaki Williams stole the ball off the keeper as he rolled it for a kick, but he slipped and fell just as he prepared to pull the trigger.

With hands in their heads, the entire Portuguese team, including Ronaldo on the bench, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the referee whistled for full time.

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