Cristiano Ronaldo can now add another record to his collection after netting a controversial penalty in Portugal’s entertaining 3-2 win over Ghana.
The forward – who is now unattached of course – is now the first and only player to score in five different World Cups following the goal, which kick-started a remarkable final half hour of the game.
Andre Ayew levelled the scores with a close range finish after being found by Mohamed Kudus, only for Joao Felix to quickly restore Portugal’s lead with a clipped finish.
Substitute Rafael Leao then made it 3-1 with a cool slot into the far corner, and although Ghana’s Osman Bukari pulled one back it was Ronaldo’s side who held on.
Here’s how his evening went.
1. The good vibes start before kick-off
Of course this was never going to be a critical environment for Ronaldo.
The Metro towards Ras Bu Abboud station was packed full of fans in Portugal shirts, with roughly half of them featuring Ronaldo’s name and the No.7.
It was another reminder of the reach of the iconic figure, one of the world’s most famous people, and perhaps it is this that he clings on to as age withers his abilities in a manner that he can’t quite grasp, or refuses to.
No matter. There was no need for idle discussion of his club future here, just a celebration of the fact that one of the greats was playing this game, at this time, in this city.
Ronaldo’s name was greeted with an enormous roar when it was read out before kick-off, and passions were obviously stirred further when the Portugal national anthem was played, almost reducing him to tears.
This was clearly a big day in his storied career, and even he needed a moment to take it all in.
2. The ones that got away
Ronaldo is rusty, of course, given that he hasn’t featured for Manchester United much of late, a situation largely of his own making.
And while he won’t admit it when the grandest trophy is on the line, one of his aims at this World Cup will simply be to get minutes under his belt to be in the best possible condition for when he joins his new club.
You could have seen, for example, a fully fit Ronaldo bury the two early chances that came his way, one when he got a pass rather caught under his feet and then a second when he leapt in that trademark fashion of his only for the ball to glance off his head and go wide.
Of course he’s not the player he was, but he’s still capable of burying those.
3. The old magic is still there
The boy can still finish though.
Ronaldo’s disallowed goal in the first half was the correct decision, even though Ghana’s Alexander Djiku went down easily following the shove in the back. It was one of those decisions that will never be overturned once it is given.
It was a fine finish though, one for the brochure for the prospective new clubs for sure, and he can indeed count himself somewhat unlucky that it was ruled out.
4. The moment they came for
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Just as you could say of some of his time at Manchester United, many fans who flocked to see the Ronaldo experience were largely doing so for one thing.
So was it a dive? Probably, but did those Portugal supporters behind the goal care when the penalty went in? Not a jot.
This was football as theatre, the main character on the main stage, with the trademark celebration dusted off for good measure.
It was a World Cup moment, basically, even if the pureness of it could be questioned.
5. An impressive supporting cast
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It will have been said before about Portugal in a major tournament, but this vintage really do have the tools to go far.
With a starting lineup that boasts half of Manchester United and City – or at least did until this week – you’d expect that, but it is the attacking talents on the edge of things who really get you excited.
Joao Felix is a player who needs an explosion in a major tournament to rid himself of the apparent misery of life under Diego Simeone, while Rafael Leao is another exciting talent who seemingly only needs a few minutes to score.
Diogo Jota is a big miss, but there is real firepower there.