Ghana lose 1 goal after late charge against Portugal


Cristiano Ronaldo closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then made World Cup history.

The Portuguese striker became the first male player to score in five World Cups with his 65th-minute penalty in a 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday.

Andre Ayew equalized for Ghana eight minutes later, but Joao Felix regained the lead for Portugal in the 78th minute and Rafael Leao added a third. Osman Bukari reduced Ghana’s deficit in the 89th.

Ronaldo, 37, was looking to show off his talents to potential new clubs after his Manchester United contract was terminated this week. After wasting two good chances in the first half, he fell under a challenge from Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu for a penalty.

Rolling after the ball hit the back of the net, a smiling Ronaldo performed his usual leap and spin in the air – the crowd roared his trademark “SI-UUU” as he pirouetted – before being attacked by his teammates.

He has now scored in every World Cup since his first in 2006 and has a record 118 international goals.

It was a crazy end to a slow-burning World Cup game that ended with Portugal defender Danilo clearing the ball close to the line in the ninth minute of stoppage time. Ronaldo, who was sitting in the dugout after being substituted, put his hand to his head in relief.

Ronaldo, understandably, took center stage at the start of his fifth and likely last World Cup, particularly after a difficult tournament run-up during which he gave an unauthorized and revealing interview criticizing the manager, owners and Manchester United teammates. On Tuesday he parted ways with the English club which means he is on display in Qatar.

Another scoring record adds to the luster of his resume. A penalty against Iran in 2006 started his World Cup goalscoring tally – he is now at eight from 18 appearances – and he lifted the ball past Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati with his final kick after a long theatrical preparation until the penalty.

Bruno Fernandes arguably played a bigger role in Portugal’s win, scoring the team’s second and third goals with perfectly weighted balls.

Still, the Portuguese players came close to throwing it away after losing their temper in the chaotic final minutes, featuring the comedic scene of Bukari performing Ronaldo’s “SI-UUU” celebration after his goal.

In the other Group H match, South Korea and Uruguay drew 0-0.

Embolo goal puts Switzerland above Cameroon

Breel Embolo’s goal took Switzerland to a 1-0 win over Cameroon at the World Cup on Thursday and he kept his promise not to celebrate the goal against the country where he was born.

The Swiss striker from Yaoundé struck with a right-footed shot in the 48th minute, standing on his own eight yards in the middle of the goalmouth to take Xherdan Shaqiri’s low pass.

Returning Swiss Breel Embolo celebrates after scoring his side’s goal with teammate Granit Xhaka in Thursday’s Men’s World Cup against Cameroon. (Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press)

Embolo then pursed his lips in a wry smile and held out his arms, before raising his hands in a gesture of apology as his teammates rushed towards him near the penalty spot.

He pointed at the Swiss fans behind the goal where he had scored and then at the Cameroonian fans in the opposite corner of the Al Janoub stadium.

The 25-year-old striker left Cameroon with his family when he was five years old. They spent time in France before moving to Switzerland, the country he now represents at a second World Cup.

Although a player of African descent scored, African teams are now scoreless in all four games they have played at this World Cup. All faced higher-seeded sides, with Morocco and Tunisia drawing 0-0 against Croatia and Denmark respectively.

Cameroon’s losing streak in World Cup finals has stretched to eight games since 2002.

Brazil and Serbia are also in Group G and will meet later on Thursday.

South Korea-Uruguay end in a draw

Another favorite team failed to impress at the start of the World Cup.

This time it was South Korea who held the South American powerhouse to a 0-0 draw against Uruguay on Thursday, a result that likely favors the Asian side.

The draw at the Education City stadium was another early World Cup game with a surprising result. Argentina and Germany both lost their first games in major upsets. This one implied that he was another one.

Uruguayan coach Diego Alonso said he was satisfied, as did his South Korean counterpart Paulo Bento. Alonso seemed less convincing.

“I’m more than happy with the result,” Alonso said. “I’m sure this group stage will be determined by the last game. We all know the second game is essential, as is the third. But it won’t affect whether we qualify or not.”

Uruguay next face Portugal in Group H while South Korea take on Ghana, with both games on Monday. The top two teams in the group will advance to the Round of 16.

South Korea, with striker Son Heung-min wearing a mask to protect a broken left eye socket, always looked more likely to score against the more experienced Uruguayans. The South Koreans were quicker, pressing from the first whistle.

Many South Korean fans wore Batman-like masks in solidarity with Son, who was injured on November 2 in a Champions League game against English club Tottenham. He had a few chances early in the game but looked tired in the second half.


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