Portugal hold on to clinch victory after late Ghana fightback

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Portugal hold on to clinch victory after late Ghana fightback
Updated
Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot
Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot
AFP, StatsPerform
Portugal and Ghana played out a five-goal second-half thriller as the Cristiano Ronaldo led side won 3-2 with goals from their talisman scoring from the spot as Joao Felix and Rafael Leao also got on the scoresheet.

Full Time Portugal 3 Ghana 2

19:05 CET: Ronaldo opened the scoring for Portugal and as seen by his heat map, he covered a lot of the pitch to connect the play.

Cristiano Ronaldo's heat map against Ghana
StatsPerform

19:02 CET: As ever we have our full match report to catch up on any of the action that you missed, and there was plenty in that second half. 

Here are the match stats from a game that flattered to deceive in the first half but caught light in the second with Portugal running out winners.

Match stats as Portugal overcome Ghana challenge
StatsPerform

18:59 CET: Late chaos, but Portugal hang on! Portugal were the better team but that late mistake nearly cost them in front of their own goal. The reaction of Ronaldo told the story as he gasped in horror, but his side have survived and go top in Group H with this 3-2 win. The momentum shifts in this game are well worth a look and for Ghana, they will take heart that they took the Portuguese to the wire.

Momentum in this game
StatsPerform

Second Half

18:57 CET: OFF THE LINE! Somehow Ghana nearly stumble in a late, late equaliser but Portugal are on hand to clear it off the line as the ball crawled towards the goal.

18:55 CET: Bukari fancies his chances for range to grab the equaliser but it sails over. That could be it for the Black Stars.

18:53 CET: Three minutes left, and Portugal are playing this very smartly, wasting time and giving Ghana no option but to dive into tackles. 

18:50 CET: Nine minutes added on! Hope for Ghana.

18:48 CET: With that goal, there is now tension around the ground and on the field, where a scuffle has broken out. Eight players involved, the referee books Danilo and Inaki Williams after the incident.

18:46 CET: A lifeline for Ghana from Bukari! 3-2!

It's not quite done yet! Bukari heads home a deflected cross to make things interesting as we tick into stoppage time. Can Ghana pull off a sensational comeback?

18:45 CET: The life in this game has gone and with it, Portugal make three changes. Ronaldo, Joao Felix and Bernardo Silva all come off for Goncalo Ramos, Joao Mario and Joao Palhinha.

18:40 CET: Ten minutes left in the game and Ronaldo should make it four. He is clean through and tries a similar finish to Felix, but Ati-Zigi is equal to this one.

18:39 CET: A sucker punch for Ghana, as Portugal turn on the style to score twice in quick succession. Both goals similar from opposite sides of the box and that really has sucked the life out of the Africans.

18:37 CET: TWO IN TWO MINUTES! Substitute Rafael Leao gets in on the act

18:35 CET: JOAO FELIX GIVES PORTUGAL THE LEAD!

A sublimed flicked finish from one the best young strikers in the world sends Portugal back in front.

18:33 CET: Kudus and Ayew are heading off for Ghana to be replaced by Osman Bukari and brother Jordan Ayew.

18:30 CET: GOAL FOR GHANA! ANDRE AYEW!!

They are back level with their second shot on target in the match. Ayew slides in ahead of Costa to tap in the leveller and send the Ghana fans in the stadium into a frenzy. 

18:25 CET: Tariq Lamptey has come on for Ghana in place of Alidu Seidu, who was in danget of being sent off following his incident with Joao Felix.

18:22 CET: SIUUUUUU! Ronaldo gives Portugal the lead from the spot!

A powerful strike from 12 yards, and Ronaldo, who else, has given the Portuguese the lead. A deserved one. Can Ghana fight back into this encounter?

18:20 CET: PENALTY TO PORTUGAL!

Cristiano Ronaldo goes down from a challenge from Mohammed Salisu and the penalty is given. It seemed a little soft.

18:16 CET: The fouls and the cards are also racking for the Ghanains, who see Alidu Seidu go into the referee's book. He also has a little spat with Joao Felix, which really is something of nothing, but the referee gives him lengthy lecture. He could have easily been sent off for that.

18:13 CET: Here they go again, Mohammed Kudus firing just past the post. Ghana are growing into this game now.

18:10 CET: Ghana looking more threatening at the start of the second half as they win a corner from a counter. Alidu Seidu, the right back, has a speculative effort from distance - that won't be troubling Diogo Costa.

18:06 CET: Andre Ayew - Ghana's captain - picks up the second booking of the game after a late challenge. 

18:02 CET: The players are back out for the second half and Ghana get us going. Can they find some momentum in this period?

Half Time

17:53 CET: Need some more proof? The momentum graphic also tells the same story.

First half momentum
StatsPerform

17:47 CET: Ghana have set out to frustrate Portugal, and they have done just that. 

We have said throughout the first half that the Portuguese have been on top and the match stats certainly back that up.

Half time stats
StatsPerform

First Half

17:46 CET: Two minutes to add on at the end of the half. Ghana will be happy just to get in unscathed.

17:45 CET: Still intense Portugal pressure and after a good Cancelo cross can't find anyone, the ball breaks to Otavio, who fires over. The real entertainment in this half has come from the Ghana fans. They are creating a great atmosphere. 

17:42 CET: Some good defending keeps Ronaldo from getting a shot away against Ghana. But the ball is not cleared until Joao Felix commits a foul in the box.

17:38 CET: This time it beats the first man, but it comes to nothing. Ghana really need to take advantage of those moments if they are to get anything out of this game.

17:37 CET: Finally, Ghana have a chance to attack from a corner. However, Mohammed Kudus can't beat the near post. It comes back in and Bruno Fernandes heads it behind. Another corner.

17:31 CET: Cristiano Ronaldo has the ball in the back of the net, but the referee calls the play back for a foul committed by Ronaldo in the build-up. He is furious with the decision, but it seems the right one.

17:29 CET: Joao Felix has a nice chance from the edge of the box but he turns it over the bar. Given the time of the year of the World Cup, it feels right for him to seranaded to the tune of 'Feliz Navidad'. Time to get that one going, Portugal fans.

17:27 CET: Ghana's gameplan seems to be to bring Portugal on to them and send Inaki Williams around the back. So far, Portugal have been wise to it and the Athletic Bilbao is yet to get into the game.

17:20 CET: Already 20 minutes into this game and we are yet to see Ghana get forward, however they are holding Portugal at bay well. In the stands, there is plenty of noise, with musical instruments aplenty. 

17:13 CET: Ronaldo targeted from a corner? We've seen this before, but this he can't connect with the cross as Southampton's Mohammed Salisu does well to get in the way.

17:10 CET: First chance for Ronaldo as he breaks through but Ghana keeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi is out well to make life difficult for him.

17:04 CET: A quiet start in Stadium 974. Joao Felix drives at the Ghana backline and is well tackled. He is playing alongside Ronaldo tonight and it will be interesting to see how they link up.

17:00 CET: Portugal get us under way in Qatar. All eyes on Ronaldo.

Pre-match

16:57 CET: Ghana and Portugal are both on the pitch for the opening salvos of this game. A huge roar goes up for the Ghanain team after their national anthem, can they pull off an upset today?

Team News

Cristiano Ronaldo, appearing in his fifth World Cup, will spearhead Portugal's attack against Ghana alongside Joao Felix in their opening Group H match on Thursday.

Ronaldo left Manchester United this week in an acrimonious split after he said he felt betrayed by the club, but his coach and teammates have said the upheaval was having no impact on Portugal's preparations for their campaign in Qatar.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos partnered Ronaldo with Atletico Madrid's Felix in attack while Danilo Pereira joined Ruben Dias in the centre of defence. In midfield, Santos chose an attacking formation with only Ruben Neves as an anchor.

Ghana manager Otto Addo went for three central defenders in a bid to thwart Portugal and entrusted former Spain international Inaki Williams to lead his attack.

Portugal: Diogo Costa, Joao Cancelo, Danilo Pereira, Ruben Dias, Raphael Guerreiro, Ruben Neves, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Otavio, Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ghana: Lawrence Ati-Zigi, Abdul-Rahman Baba, Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku, Mohammed Salisu, Alidu Seidu, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, Mohammed Kudus, Andre Ayew, Inaki Williams

Introduction

Portugal have had, to say the least, the opportunity to get distracted as they travelled to Qatar. However, now they get to face an old World Cup Group stage fixture in Ghana. Both squads have much changed since their last contest on the big stage back in the 2014 edition in Brazil. They have a lot to prove, with Portugal showing that they should be taken as a serious candidate to go far while Ghana's recent results on the African stage have been far from impressive and the World Cup is the perfect opportunity to change that.

Follow all the action with us right here and from 16:55 CET, we will have live audio commentary for you to enjoy.