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Ronaldo breaks record as Portugal up and running with Ghana win



(Last Updated On: November 25, 2022)

Cristiano Ronaldo drew a line under a tumultuous tournament build-up as he wrote his name in the record books to become the first man to score in five World Cups in a 3-2 victory for Portugal over Ghana on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Ronaldo drilled home a penalty in the 65th minute of the Group H encounter to set his side on their way and while Andre Ayew equalised for Ghana, Portugal turned on the afterburners with two quick-fire goals to effectively seal the deal at Stadium 974.

According to Reuters Joao Felix produced a delicate finish to give them the lead and Rafael Leao added a third to hand Portugal their first win in the opening match of the World Cup since 2006, even if Osman Bukari pulled another one back for Ghana late on.

The win was not the most convincing for Portugal, and will come as some relief for Fernando Santos’s side, who top the group with three points and next face Uruguay on Monday, when Ghana play South Korea.

For all Portugal’s enterprising attacking play and the goalscoring performances of Felix and Leao, it was Ronaldo who once again showed his unparalleled ability to draw the limelight.

“I think Cristiano is a phenomenon, a legend… in 50 years’ time, we will still be talking about him,” Santos said.

The bitter end to Ronaldo’s second spell at Manchester United had dominated the build-up to the match in much the same way the forward seems to dominate the way Portugal play, read the report.

Against Ghana, Ronaldo seemed to exert a planetary gravitational pull on the ball, with team mates seeking him out at every opportunity.

For vast swathes of the match, everything revolved around Ronaldo, who lurked threateningly on the edge of the Ghana box, with almost all his side’s attacking moves ending up at his feet.

He had two early chances, a one-on-one when a heavy touch let him down, and a header where he typically hovered in the air before glancing his effort wide.

He then smacked the ball in the back of the net after 31 minutes only to realise the referee had already blown his whistle for a foul.

For Ghana, the youngest squad at the World Cup, their early ambitions rarely stretched beyond the halfway line as the lowest-ranked side in the tournament set about keeping almost everyone behind the ball at all times in the first half, Reuters reported.

Most of the action was condensed into a relatively short period after the 60th minute with Portugal taking the lead when awarded a soft penalty after Ronaldo went down following minimal shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Mohammed Salisu.

Ronaldo closed his eyes as he waited to begin his run up, stuttered and smashed the ball into the net to the keeper’s right.

The entire Portugal team raced down the touchline to pile on top of the 37-year-old, who surpassed Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose as the only player to find the net in five separate men’s World Cups.

It is the 10th consecutive major tournament in which Ronaldo has found the net although Ghana coach Otto Addo was not in the mood to be charitable.

“It was the wrong decision… It was actually a foul against us,” he said of the penalty award.

“If somebody scores a goal, congratulations. But this was a gift. A special gift from the referee.”

As it was, his Ghana side fired back quickly when Mohammed Kudus’s cross bobbled its way through a defender’s legs to Ayew who tapped home.

Portugal, however, then revved into gear with Felix latching onto a Bruno Fernandes throughball and lifting his finish nonchalantly over the keeper, read the report.

Fernandes was the architect of their third goal too, playing another superb throughball for substitute Leao to slide his finish across the keeper and into the bottom corner.

There was tension at the end, however, as Ghana pulled another goal back with Osman Bukari, appearing unmarked in the box, heading in a cross from the left in the 89th minute, giving a sliver of hope to Ghana’s fans behind that goal.

There was to be no fairytale ending for the Ghanaians though and the night belonged to Ronaldo.


Cristiano Ronaldo close to signing deal with Saudi Arabian club



(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes are reportedly close to agreeing to a lucrative deal for Portugal’s captain after his contract with Manchester United was terminated earlier this month.

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly set to agree a deal to join Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.

The 37-year-old is said to have agreed to a two-and-a-half year deal worth $225 million per year, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

Al Nassr, who have won the Saudi Pro League nine times but not since 2019, are said to have offered way more than any European or MLS club could offer.

Chelsea are said to no longer be interested in signing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, while Newcastle – who are owned by a Saudi-led consortium – are also believed to have distanced themselves from making a move.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn said on Tuesday that the Bundesliga champions are not in talks to sign the Portugal international.

He said: “We have a clear idea, a clear philosophy of how our squad should be put together. We all appreciate him, there is no discussion.

“We all love Cristiano Ronaldo, but that is something that doesn’t fit into our idea.”

The decision to terminate his contract came after Ronaldo criticized the Manchester United board, manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s infrastructure in an interview with Piers Morgan earlier this month.

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Tuesday’s Matches: Qatar, Iran and Wales exit World Cup



(Last Updated On: November 30, 2022)

This year’s FIFA World Cup tournament has come to an end for Qatar, Iran and Wales after losing their group stage matches to Netherlands, US and England respectively on Tuesday.

Qatar was the first to be eliminated after losing their first two matches in Group A. The Qataris had already failed to advance to the knockout stage after an early 3-1 loss to Senegal.

For the hosts, their campaign at the World Cup ended with a loss against Netherlands on Tuesday. Despite making their World Cup debut, Qatar are now the first World Cup hosts to lose all three group matches.

The next match saw the US defeating Iran 1-0 in their last group stage match. Iran became the second Asian country to be eliminated following Qatar’s exit.

A first half goal from Christian Pulisic gave the Americans the lead. In the 38th minute, Pulisic collided with Iran’s goalkeeper in the process of scoring the sole goal of the match and had to leave the field for several minutes but was later able to return and finish out the first half. He was replaced at halftime.

The win earned United States a seat in the round of 16. They will now take on the Netherlands on Saturday in an elimination game.

Tuesday was the first time that the United States had faced Iran in over 20 years. In 1998, Iran beat the United States 2-1 which was their first-ever World Cup victory.

Alongside the Netherlands and the United States, England also secured their knockout stage spot after beating Wales 3-0.

It was the first time British teams had met at a World Cup and saw the two sides take a knee before their match as a gesture of solidarity in the fight against discrimination.

On the field on Tuesday, England was able to outplay Wales 3-0 after a double from Marcus Rashford and a third goal from Phil Foden.

For Senegal, Kalidou Koulibaly scored the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday, putting his team into the round of 16 despite the absence of the injured Sadio Mane, the team’s best player and one of the best strikers in the world.

Only a win against Ecuador would have taken Senegal through to the next round from Group A, and Koulibaly scored the goal that made it happen at Khalifa International Stadium.


Where to watch

Afghan fans need not miss out on any of the excitement of this year’s tournament which is being broadcast live and exclusively by Ariana Television in Afghanistan.

For the full broadcast schedule CLICK HERE

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Biden cheers US World Cup win over Iran: ‘They did it, God love ‘em’



(Last Updated On: November 30, 2022)

American soccer’s first fan, President Joe Biden, couldn’t hold back his excitement Tuesday when the US team beat Iran 1-0 in their FIFA World Cup match.

Biden, who had been at a Michigan technology plant, broke out of the crowd and raced back on stage to tell his audience that the US had beaten Iran 1-0.

The president, who had just finished speaking at the SK Siltron plant in Bay City, was mingling with guests while the match was on.

Biden, 80, was so anxious to deliver the good news that he was drowned out at first by a band playing music, New York Post reported.

“US 1, Iran 0, the game is over!” the president finally shouted to cheers, applause and a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

“U-S-A! U-S-A!” Biden joined in, adding: “That’s a big game, man.”

“When I spoke to the coach and the players I said, ‘You can do this.’ They went ‘ehhhh,’” the president went on, recalling his good-luck conversation with the team before the tournament got underway. “They did it, God love ‘em,” he said.

The US went undefeated in group play, drawing 1-1 with Wales on Nov. 21 and 0-0 with England on Friday before edging Iran on a first-half goal by Christian Pulisic.

The US will try to keep their tournament going on Saturday morning against the Netherlands.

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