Sport

2022 World Cup: VAR missing as Portugal edge Ghana in five-goal thriller

Portugal edged Ghana for a 3-2 win at Stadium 974 on Thursday evening in the Black Stars’ 2022 World Cup opener as VAR was missing in action.

Cristiano Ronaldo converted a controversial penalty to give the Portuguese the lead just after the hour mark before Andre Ayew levelled for Ghana.

There was late drama as the European nation scored two-in-two minutes for a 3-1 lead. Substitute Osman Bukari headed in brilliantly late on to end the game 3-2.

The Black Stars became the first African team to score a goal at this year’s tournament.

Portugal leads Group H with three points after the win, with Ghana bottom. Uruguay and South Korea have a point each after drawing goalless earlier.

The Black Stars will next play South Korea on November 28 while Portugal faces Uruguay on the same day.

Cristiano Ronaldo got the first sight at goal but Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi was very proactive to run out of his line and put the ball to safety in 10 minutes.

The A Selecao restricted the Black Stars to their own half in the first 20 minutes, playing 76% of the ball while Ghana has only 24% of possession.

At the half hour mark, Ronaldo drilled the ball into Ghana’s net but he fouled Alexander Djiku in the process.

The Black Stars’ plan to catch Portugal on the counter wasn’t working as the midfield could not spot Inaki Williams, with the Euro 2016 champions getting 5 attempts, one on target against Ghana’s zero.

A half completed dominated by the two-time semifinalists ended in a goalless draw.

Ghana finally came out of their own half to play as Mohammed Kudus made a marvellous solo run to hit a great shot that missed the target narrowly 10 minutes into the second half.

Portugal was awarded a soft penalty that was not checked by the VAR after a least touch from Mohammed Salisu. The protestations of the Ghanaian players were ignored by the USA referee Elfath.

Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot as he converted brilliantly to break the deadlock in the 64th minute to make World Cup history. He became the first player to score in five consecutive tournaments.

Ghana pulled the equalizer through Andre Ayew, who latched onto a Kudus cutback in the 73rd minute.

Portugal caught Ghana’s backline sleeping on the break as Joao Felix picked a Baba Rahman missed ball to convert from the right side of the box in the 78th minute.

The same situation repeated itself two minutes later. This time on the right side, with substitute Raphael Leao converting from the left post.

With a minute to the end of the 90, Osman Bukari cut Portugal’s lead to one after heading in a Baba Rahman cross from the left.

Portugal held on to for the victory to ward off Ghana’s late pressure for an equalizer.

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