Ronaldo seizes his moment yet again
Cristiano Ronaldo embraces Rafael Leao after Portugal's win
Two days on from his mutually agreed departure from Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo exhibited each the strengths and shortcomings which have come to typify his sport at 37 as Portugal claimed an exciting 3-2 win over Ghana.
Of course, he scored. His opener, emphatically transformed from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Mohammed Salisu, confirmed as soon as again his extraordinary skill, even at this late stage of his storied profession, to bend the narrative to his will.
It made him the primary male participant to attain at 5 completely different World Cups, one other piece of historical past to quieten his current critics and a feat which sums up his exceptional longevity as he chases the one trophy that has to date eluded him.
- Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Match report
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But whereas he stays a talismanic determine for his nation, their captain and an undisputed starter in Fernando Santos’ crew, there was proof, too, of why he had misplaced that standing at Manchester United.
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First, there was the identical uncharacteristic wastefulness in entrance of purpose as seen within the first half of the home season, throughout which he solely scored thrice in 16 video games for Erik ten Hag’s facet.
In the tenth minute, a heavy contact noticed him spurn a one-on-one likelihood up in opposition to Ghana goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi. Soon after that, a botched header from Raphael Guerreiro’s cross drifted huge.
Ronaldo spent the remainder of the sport ready for service, hovering round Ghana’s defensive position and not often involving himself in Portugal’s method play as they tried, usually fruitlessly, to discover a method via.
By the tip, he had had fewer touches (33) and accomplished fewer passes (15) than every other starter. But, crucially, he had additionally scored the purpose which set Portugal on their option to victory. Ronaldo, for all his limitations at 37, stays the person for the most important events.
Brazil lastly arrive on the World Cup – and appear to be main contenders
Richarlison celebrates after scoring his second purpose in opposition to Serbia
We needed to wait till the ultimate sport of the primary spherical of matches to see them in motion. And then we needed to wait one other hour or so earlier than we noticed Brazil actually click on into gear.
But the 5-time champions have arrived now and look set to be main contenders at this World Cup.
Through the ultimate half-hour they performed with ability and swagger. Vinicius Junior was glorious all through and deservedly completed with a few assists to his identify, however it was Richarlison’s gorgeous second, after his poached first, which appeared to encourage his crew-mates in that last interval of the sport.
This is how we count on Brazil to play at World Cups.
- Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Match report
From the bench, Tite displayed the array of attacking choices at his disposal with Rodrygo particularly wanting an actual risk, whereas Premier League observers wouldn’t have been stunned to see Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli instantly inflicting issues.
Behind them, Casemiro was imperious, whereas in defence Thiago Silva – the oldest participant ever to signify his nation at a World Cup – used all his expertise to marshal the backline. Occasionally Serbia threatened however Alisson didn’t have a save to make.
This was not a straightforward opener. But via perseverance and then panache Brazil confirmed their strengths.
Neymar’s knock will likely be a fear however the true concern will likely be felt by Brazil’s title rivals. This crew are going to take some stopping.
Serbia want gamers match to bounce again
Aleksandar Mitrovic is fouled by Lucas Paqueta in opposition to Brazil
Serbia have been talked up as darkish horses for this World Cup however maybe 98 minutes in opposition to Brazil was not one of the best measure of their potential. They have been organised for an hour, stifling the South American facet, however as soon as chasing the sport they have been overwhelmed.
In convincing wins over Norway and Sweden in September, head coach Dragan Stojkovic went with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dusan Vlahovic in tandem up prime. That is trickier for him to do in opposition to one of the best groups on the planet. With Vlahovic, the risk is diminished.
The Serbia boss was clearly annoyed that he couldn’t use Juventus winger Filip Kostic, whereas Mitrovic just isn’t absolutely match both. “It would be a completely different story if they were. They are not ready, that’s the way it is. We have a lot of injuries at the wrong time.”
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Kostic is within the squad, not less than, and Mitrovic managed to play 83 minutes. There will nonetheless be hope that Serbia can develop into the match however they discover themselves in a battle in opposition to time as effectively as the opposition. With their finest gamers match, they’ll compete.
Stojkovic was a wonderful playmaker in his pomp so it’s going to have given him no nice pleasure in setting as much as cease the opposition. Perhaps the more true take a look at of Serbia’s capabilities will come on Monday afternoon in opposition to Cameroon. They might want to present extra.
Switzerland: Beware the clever outdated owl
Breel Embolo scored the one purpose for Switzerland
It is dear knowledge that’s purchased by expertise, and expertise counts for a lot at tournaments like this one. The Swiss are like a clever outdated owl. And within the theme of the famed nursery rhyme, they converse little however absorb and possess a lot information. You may see that have stamped throughout their cool and calm efficiency in opposition to Cameroon.
The common age of Switzerland’s beginning XI for his or her win over Cameroon was 28 years and 238 days. There was no panic even regardless of Cameroon’s quick begin and they slowly grabbed management of the sport when Cameroon ran out of puff and concepts.
- Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Match report
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They gave little away and all the time knew a moment or two would come their method after they unleashed their artistic gamers into area. Granit Xhaka embodied a lot of this argument, enjoying with such assurance and high quality within the coronary heart of the midfield. Bigger checks than this are on the horizon however knocking this Switzerland facet out of this match will show a problem. Beware the clever outdated owl.
Enigmatic Kudus embodies Ghana’s topsy-turvy show
Mohamed Kudus (left) celebrates Ghana's first purpose with Andre Ayew
The efficiency of Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus in some methods encapsulated Ghana’s show as they opened their Group H marketing campaign on the World Cup with a good 3-2 defeat to Portugal.
Set up in a 5-3-2, the African facet camped inside their very own half for the primary hour in Doha, conceding the vast majority of possession to their European counterparts and not often threatening Diogo Costa’s purpose.
Ghana’s defensive method meant Portugal struggled to interrupt them down, however they have been nonetheless in a position to create possibilities because of some questionable play by Kudus, who was twice caught in possession deep in his personal half.
Kudus, lining up as one of many three midfielders, was then introduced with a uncommon likelihood to launch a Ghana assault however, below little strain, failed to pick Inaki Williams’ run behind the Portugal defence and as an alternative sliced a move straight to his opponents.
Kudus, like the remainder of his crew-mates, was missing a spark. But it was supplied within the wake of Ronaldo’s penalty, which opened the scoring for Portugal and instantly noticed the 22-12 months-outdated moved right into a extra superior place by Ghana boss Otto Addo.
The transfer paid dividends, with Kudus twice coming near equalising from vary earlier than establishing Andre Ayew’s equaliser with a driving run to the byline and a sensible cross that picked out his captain.
Suddenly Kudus was enjoying with extra power, freedom and willpower – all traits that embodied Ghana’s show for the ultimate 25 minutes.
Ghana could have come up quick ultimately, with their extra expansive method late within the sport offering the area for Portugal to attain twice extra, however they rattled their opponents and would have taken some extent had Williams not slipped at simply the flawed moment after dispossessing Costa within the last seconds.
Kudus’ dreadful show for the primary hour was curious, given he has shone within the Champions League this season, scoring residence and away in opposition to Rangers and netting in opposition to Liverpool and Napoli.
But the standard that introduced him these objectives on the most important stage in European membership soccer was evident within the latter levels in opposition to Portugal – and will must be on present in opposition to South Korea on Monday if Ghana are to haul themselves off the underside of Group H and into the final 16.
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