It has been an interesting few weeks for Cristiano Ronaldo to say the least, but the Portuguese football superstar has been doing his best to put it behind him at the FIFA World Cup. The 37-year-old became the first player in history to score a goal at five World Cups when he found the back of the net against Ghana on Friday morning.
The lead-up to his fifth World Cup appearance has been fraught for Ronaldo, with his explosive interview with Piers Morgan the final straw in his tense relationship with Manchester United. The Premier League club and Ronaldo mutually agreed to terminate his contract earlier this week after the star forward became increasingly disgruntled under the direction of Erik Ten Hag.
Ronaldo's record breaking goal no doubt went some way towards easing his troubles, despite Portugal copping an almighty scare from a late charging Ghana in their first group stage match. Setting the stage for a Portugal win, Ronaldo threatened to score numerous times in the first half before handing Portugal the lead from the penalty spot in the 64th minute.
Ghana levelled shortly afterwards through Andre Ayew, setting up an exciting final 20 minutes. However Portugal looked to have put the game to bed when they struck twice in two minutes, holding a 3-1 lead heading into injury time.
Ronaldo received a huge ovation when he was replaced but he had barely sat down when Ghana made it 3-2, substitute Osman Bukari taking advantage of some lax marking to head in a deflected cross in the 89th minute.
In the nine minutes of added time that followed, Portugal goalkeeper Diogo Costa failed to spot Ghana striker Inaki Williams standing behind him when he released the ball inside the box. Williams raced past the startled keeper and reached the ball first, but he slipped at the crucial moment and Danilo Pereira eventually cleared the ball off the line.
All eyes were on 37-year-old Ronaldo following his departure from Manchester United this week and never more so than when he stepped up to take a penalty in the 65th minute after being tripped in the box.
After taking several deep breaths, Ronaldo confidently beat Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi to make history and set Portugal on their way to victory.
Until then he had been tied on scoring at four World Cups alongside Pele, of Brazil, and Germans Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
Cristiano Ronaldo claims World Cup record in Portugal win
Ronaldo has now scored in every World Cup since his first in 2006 and has a record 118 international goals.
"It was a beautiful moment," Ronaldo said after the match. "My fifth World Cup, we won. That was very important. The world record is something that makes me very proud."
Ronaldo is now without a club after parting ways with Manchester United but he added: "This week we closed the chapter. The rest doesn't matter."
His penalty broke the deadlock after a tight first half, in which Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for a foul, and from then on the goals continued to flow as the error count grew.
Portugal survived to move top of Group H, winning their opening World Cup match for the first time since 2006.
Ghana have the youngest squad in Qatar and their defence folded as Portugal scored three times in 16 minutes. But their coach, Otto Addo, strongly criticised the award of Portugal's penalty.
Addo said his defender Mohammed Salisu had touched the ball before Ronaldo. "We play the ball and then there is contact. I don't know what they did, if the video referee was asleep," he said.
"The fact that they don't even look at this scene is madness. It was a wrong decision."
However, Portugal coach Fernando Santos disagreed.
"If the video referee thought there was something wrong, he would have intervened. He didn't. So I guess there was nothing to see," he said.
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