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Ronaldo’s return to World Cup centre stage

By no means thoughts that the remainder of the night contained every part from tears through the nationwide anthem, two unhealthy misses, accusations of a “particular reward” for his tender penalty after which seeing his staff virtually comically throw away a two-goal lead, it was an event that may nonetheless be remembered for this distinctive slice of soccer historical past.

“Cristiano is a phenomenon and a legend – in 50 years’ time we’ll nonetheless be speaking about him,” stated the Portugal supervisor Fernando Santos.

Bruno Fernandes even pointedly urged the media to keep up an intense scrutiny on his team-mate. “I feel he likes to work beneath that criticism so I pray all of you retain doing that as a result of he will get the perfect of himself whenever you do this,” he stated.

Santos then declared that Ronaldo himself may clarify what all of it meant within the week that his contract had been terminated at Manchester United. And, positive sufficient, into the press convention room waltzed the now clubless Portugal captain.

He did attempt to discuss concerning the staff  – “I’m very joyful we received an excellent outcome” – however, Ronaldo being Ronaldo, there was additionally acute consciousness of what he had personally simply achieved. “This was a gorgeous second – my fifth World Cup,” he stated. “To win the primary match is essential. But additionally a world document: The primary participant to attain in 5 World Cups. That makes me proud.”

And what of the tumultuous previous seven days at Outdated Trafford? “It was every week that completed this chapter,” he stated. “This chapter is closed.  A very powerful step was that we received. I may assist my staff. All the remaining doesn’t matter.”

And, with that, Ronaldo headed for the Portugal staff bus and again to their lodge for a keep in Qatar that he clearly thinks may final proper till the ultimate virtually 4 weeks away on Dec 19.

The deeper reality, nevertheless, was that it had really been a decidedly combined efficiency from each Ronaldo and Portugal.

Having arrived to a hero’s pre-match reception, together with one fan banner that learn, “Resigned my job to witness the GOAT’s final Dance”, Ronaldo had earlier missed two fantastic first-half possibilities.

The primary contained an uncharacteristically heavy contact when he was one-on-one with Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi earlier than he rose magnificently for a free header from contained in the six-yard field just for the ball to squirm inexplicably off the facet of his head. There was additional irritation when, having shaken off a problem from Alexander Djiku and completed clinically, referee Ismail Elfath penalised his physicality within the duel.

A irritating night loomed however then, simply as some Portugal followers may need been weighing up whether or not Santos ought to strive considered one of their youthful strikers, got here a game-changing contribution. Sprinting into the penalty space with solely Mohammed Salisu for firm, Ronaldo stabbed his toe on the ball earlier than seeming to flick his foot in the direction of the Ghana defender who had himself made virtually simultaneous contact with the ball.

Ronaldo went down closely. Elfath pointed straight to the spot and, with no Var intervention, Ronaldo received as much as first kiss the ball after which emphatically add to the World Cup objectives that he had scored in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.

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