Cristiano Ronaldo Leads Portugal to Dream Start

By Jeff Stinger

Despite the blazing hot storylines surrounding Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and former club Manchester United, the 37-year-old managed to silence his critics with a stellar performance in their opening game against Ghana. He became the first player to score at five World Cups as the veteran forward opened the scoreline with a 65th-minute goal from the penalty spot. Portugal produced a 3-2 victory after trading punches with the African side and now leads Group H heading into the next match of opening-round games. What does this mean for the 2016 European Champions?

2022 FIFA World Cup Portugal Opening Game Highlights

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Cristiano Ronaldo creates history

The legendary Portuguese forward became the first man to score in five World Cups as his goal helped his nation get ahead of Ghana in a thrilling Group H encounter. Ronaldo is a +1,136 favorite to win the top goalscorer title, and his opening goal should get things going moving forward.

After leaving Manchester United by mutual consent following his controversial interview, Ronaldo fires back at his critics with another piece of history. He scored his first World Cup goal as a 21-year-old back in 2006 and now records eight goals in 18 World Cup appearances, featuring a hat-trick against Spain in the 2018 edition of the competition. He received a standing ovation when he was substituted in the dying stages of last night’s match, but Portugal had to endure heavy attacks following Osman Bukari’s header in the 89th minute.

Bruno Fernandes: the unsung hero

It was all about Ronaldo and the final World Cup appearance of his career. But in truth, he was hardly close to his prime. Teammate Bruno Fernandes played a crucial role in their victory. The 28-year-old controlled the forward line and set up Portugal’s second and third goals with precise through passes. Expect more involvement from the Manchester United midfielder as they take on Uruguay next as -104 favorites to win.

No one stood out except for Ronaldo adding more accomplishments to his already impressive portfolio. Nevertheless, it was his two perfectly-weighted passes that created his team’s second and third goals. Joao Felix broke the 1-1 deadlock in the 78th minute, while Rafael Leao provided more headroom with an 80th-minute goal.

Topic of conversation

Portugal failed to live up to expectations at the Euros, and Fernando Santos failed to put together an effective team out of a gifted collection of players. Nevertheless, the team returns with a more composed look. Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer a top-level player, but a sensible manager would never overlook what he brings to the table. If he has the service of a capable playmaker, he will deliver. Bruno Fernandes is one of the best midfielders to pair alongside him, and he’s infinitely effective through the middle.

Ultimately, the -400 Group H heavy hitters sneaked in a win at the end, and Santos will be vulnerable until they find ways to ramp up defensive efforts by next week.

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