After Brazil overcame a resilient Serbia today, all teams have played their World Cup openers. There have been routs and surprises. Coming into the Portugal game today the question was whether we would see them live up to expectations, or whether Ghana would stage a relative upset.
The first half of the game was pretty slow. Ghana did a good job canceling out Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed two decent opportunities to open the scoring. Portugal dominated possession with 70% of the ball. However, it was possession without purpose.
In Spain’s decimation of Costa Rica, the most impressive passages were when Spain’s tiki-taka play turned rapidly and incisively into goal-scoring opportunities. That incisiveness was lacking in the Portugal attack.
Cristiano Ronaldo, man of the moment
With a goal at this World Cup, Cristiano would be the first male player to score in five separate World Cups. In the second half, Ronaldo’s moment came.
Ronaldo’s critics point to his age and decline in pace. However, his football IQ is as sharp as ever. He saw the opportunity to make a run in the box and drew the foul. Some may have found the foul to be soft, but the canny Portuguese free agent played his role to perfection.
A team effort to hold on
After Ghana equalized with a goal from captain Andre Ayew, it looked like Portuguese hearts would be broken. Then, in a master stroke, Fernando Santos brought on Rafael Leao.
With Leao up front Joao Felix slipped further back into midfield, and Bruno Fernandes sat further back too. The impact was immediate. A smartly finished Joao Felix goal was quickly followed by a third from Leao with the Milan striker’s first touch of the game.
A rare mistake from Joao Cancelo opened the door for another Ghana goal. This meant a nervy finish for Portugal. Hearts were in mouths at the end of added time when Inaki Williams snuck up on goalkeeper Diogo Costa and almost stole the win from…
Source link : https://worldsoccertalk.com/news/portugal-cut-it-close-with-win-over-ghana-20221124-WST-409906.html
Author : Aaron Mateer
Publish date : 2022-11-24 22:40:32
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