FIFA World Cuphost nation: Qatar Events: 20 Nov-18 Nov December Cover: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV Listings – Full Coverage Details
Fans attending the Portugal-Ghana match would have expected an outstanding performance from Cristiano Ronaldo.
And he duly delivered at Stadium 974, which left the Portuguese fans smiling and the Ghanaian fans with a sense of what could have been.
Viewers witnessed history as 37-year-old Ronaldo became the first man to score in five different Fifa World Cups, as a 3-2 win over Ghana gave the 2016 European champions the perfect start to the tournament.
The goal and result will be a welcome distraction from the off-field troubles that have tarnished Ronaldo’s preparation for the tournament.
He attacked Manchester United and manager Erik ten Hag in an interview with TalkTV last week and subsequently left the club by mutual consent.
“That was a week where the chapter is over, it’s closed. We won and I was able to help the team – the rest doesn’t matter,” Ronaldo said after the game.
“It was a beautiful moment, my fifth World Cup,
“We won, we started well and it’s a very important win. The first game is crucial in these tournaments. “Being the first player to score goals in five World Cups makes me very proud.”
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“One of the best players of all time”
There was just one man that many of the 42,600 spectators in Doha wanted to see.
As they exited the subway at Ras Bu Aboud station just outside the campus, a mother, son and daughter were all wearing “Ronaldo 7” shirts, with the boy saying he was “my favourite”.
Just outside the turnstiles, supporters gathered and took photos while some ran away and reenacted his famous “Siu” celebration.
Ronaldo received a deafening cheer as he led his team out for a pre-match warm-up and his name received a huge ovation as the Portuguese team sheet was read out.
As the team lined up for the national anthem, the camera panned to Ronaldo – the first man to line up – and he looked quite emotional as he sang “A Portuguesa,” with tears filling his eyes.
The attacker, who had previously missed two great chances and ruled out a goal, saw his moment of glory in the second half.
With Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu watching, Ronaldo hit the deck and the American referee pointed to the spot, which he converted with aplomb.
Ronaldo rushed to the corner flag for his famous celebration, jumping and spinning in circles as “Siuuuu” rang out around the stadium.
Portugal coach Fernando Santo said: “One of the best players in the world, one of the best players of all time.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon, a legend like many who have come and gone before. In 50 years we will continue to talk about him.”
Ronaldo received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Goncalo Ramos with three minutes remaining and watched in stunned as Ghana’s Osman Bukari scored for Ghana and demonstrated his celebration.
Other records for RonaldoRonaldo has scored in 10 consecutive major tournaments
Ronaldo became the second oldest player to score at the World Cup (37 years 292 days), behind only Roger Milla in 1994 for Cameroon (42 years 39 days).
However, this record could elude him as he will be just 41 years old by the time of the next tournament in 2026.
Ronaldo is the third player, alongside Croatia’s Ivica Olic and Denmark’s Michael Laudrup, to be both the oldest and youngest goalscorer by a country at a World Cup.
Including World Cups and Euros, Ronaldo has now scored in 10 consecutive major tournaments.
“Ronaldo would have come to this World Cup with the record [of scoring in five tournaments] in the back of your mind,” former Portugal team-mate Jose Fonte told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Records are chasing him and I’m sure he’ll be very proud to have scored in five World Cups.
“It’s a huge credit to his attention to detail, his professionalism and the way he takes care of himself. It’s a great achievement for him and for Portugal too.”
Portugal midfielder Ruben Neves added: “This is Cristiano, everyone knows him. He’s the best player in the world.
“He’s really motivated, he’s really focused on the national team and we’re really happy to have him with us because he can still help us a lot.”
Ronaldo penalty decision “a nosedive”
Ronaldo would not have had the opportunity to score his historic goal if the referee had decided that Salisu would play the ball or if the video assistant referee had intervened.
Neither saved Ghana, which left boss Otto Addo furious afterwards.
He told BeIN Sports: “The referee awarded a penalty that wasn’t a penalty – everyone saw that. Why? Because it’s Ronaldo or something?”
When asked by a journalist in the post-match press conference whether the penalty was awarded because Ronaldo is a superstar, Addo replied: “Ask the referee.
“I have no proof if he would have chosen anyone else. There was contact from players. I don’t know what they did, wasn’t VAR paying attention?
“The referee was not in our favor today.”
Former England defender Matt Upson called it “a dive” on BBC Radio 5 Live, adding: “There’s a bit of contact but isn’t there enough there to put it down safely?”
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