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Cristiano Ronaldo is finished at the top level and a brave, sensible manager would leave him out. But if he’s to play, he needs service, which means at least one winger, so the exclusion of Rafael Leao was inexplicable. Similarly, Bruno Fernandes is one of the best creators in the world, but as Erik ten Hag has recently been shown, though he can do good stuff from the right because he’s a good player, he’s infinitely more effective through the middle.
Ghana were always going to sit deep, pack central areas and hope for a draw, so it also made no sense that Santoa picked Otavio and Ruben Neves when one of the two would’ve done. Then he could've included another attacking player, making Portugal a far better and more watchable outfit. Yes, they sneaked away with a win in the end, but Santos is still in danger of wasting another tournament.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Ghana's defender #17 Abdul Rahman Baba and Portugal's midfielder #08 Bruno Fernandes fight for the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group H football match between Portugal and Ghana at Stadium 974 in Doha on November 24, 2022
Image credit: Getty Images
Guerreiro lifts a decent pass over the top and Ronaldo is onto it, but Salisu comes across, nicks the ball away, Ronaldo goes down ... and the ref points to the spot! That is a nonsense!
65’ - GOAL! Portugal 1-0 Ghana (Ronaldo pen) Ronaldo rams it high and left, the keeper dives low and left, and Ronaldo is the first player to score at five World Cups!
73’ - GOAL! Portugal 1-1 Ghana (Ayew) It's that man Kudus again! He gets away down the left, hits the line, crosses low and hard, and a deflection sets Ayew to drill home from five yards; it's the first goal scored by an African nation at this World Cup, at the fifth attempt. Justice and freedom!
78’ - GOAL! Portugal 2-1 Ghana (Joao Felix) Carvalho finds Bruno, who slides a pass in behind; Baba should cut it out but the ball gets stck under his feet, and as Zigi comes out too far - Felix lets him go down then sweeps over him ... and Ghana have just removed both first-choice attackers!
80’ GOAL! Portugal 3-1 Ghana (Leao) This is what happens when you take off your best players. Guerreiro wins a big tackle in midfield, Bruno carries forward, and times a perfect pass to Leao on his outside, opens his body, and passes a lovely finish into the far corner. On the Ghana bench, Ayew slams down his bottle, and well he might. Two goals in three minutes after he and Kudus went off, and this game is over just as it was getting going!!
89’ - GOAL! Portugal 3-2 Ghana (Bukari) Well! Baba, at fault for Portugal's second goal, chases down the left and won't give up a ball Cancelo wants left to him - he's been poor tonight - his cross is deflected, and Bukari is up early and high to head home a livener! This game is so odd - and, suddenly, so good!
90+10’ - GHANA NEED TO GET IT FORWARD
On their bench, Dede Ayew looks ready to commit murder, as Baba slings in a cross and Costa clear. But what on earth is going on now! Costa doesn't see Williams behind him, he nicks the ball and just as he's about to turn and score, he slips! He can only nudge goalwards, and Dias clears before the shot can dribble over the line! What on earth is going on!