Cristiano Ronaldo made World Cup history two days after severing ties with Manchester United as Portugal opened their campaign in Qatar with a 3-2 win over Ghana.
Ronaldo, who is a free agent following his acrimonious split from Old Trafford, became the first player to score in five World Cups when he netted Portugal’s first goal from the penalty spot.
André Ayew’s equalizer looked set to spoil Portugal’s fun, but a quick strike from João Félix and substitute Rafael Leão gave them a two-goal lead.
Osman Bukari halved with an 89th-minute header but Portugal held on nine minutes into stoppage time to seize the initiative in Group H, where Uruguay and South Korea held to a goalless draw.
The former Manchester United number seven was the first to get the crowd on their feet in the 10th minute, running in to Otavio’s pass after Mohammed Kudus gained possession.
However, the ball got away from him and goalkeeper Lawrence Ati won a 50-50 foot run to block Ronaldo.
The 2016 European champions were dominating possession and putting pressure on Ghana whenever the ball was dropped, but it was a tough encounter.
Openings were few and far between, and Atlético Madrid striker Félix summed up the lack of quality by leaning back and shooting a left-footed shot over the top in the 28th minute.
Ronaldo put the ball in the net after half an hour, but the goal was canceled out by his shoving Ghana defender Alexander Djiku.
Portugal still led territorially and, at the end of the break, Otávio missed the target with a shot, after João Cancelo saw his run from left to right in the area.
Ghana enlivened a slow start to the second period when Kudus broke through the middle, evaded Ruben Neves and drilled a low left-foot shot past Diogo Costa’s goal.
Alidu Seidu received a stern word and yellow card from American referee Ismail Elfath after he nodded at Felix.
The goal that Portugal and Ronaldo had been craving came in the 65th minute after the referee ruled that Ghanaian Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu had fouled the 37-year-old star in the penalty area.
Nearly every Portuguese fan behind goal had their smartphones positioned as Ronaldo stepped up and made World Cup history, with Ati guessing the right way but not getting close to the ball.
Ghana responded positively and equalized in the 73rd minute.
Kudus spiked Costa’s palms with a powerful left-footed shot and seconds later he opened up on the left side of the penalty area. Danilo Pereira scrambled trying to deflect the low cross and the ball fell to Ayew, who swept from close range.
However, Portugal had a chance to restore their lead when Baba Rahman allowed a Bruno Fernandes pass to reach Felix, who charged towards the goal before deflecting it past Ati.
The game seemed to be over when Fernandes attacked again, this time hitting substitute Leão on his left, who shot from an angle towards the goal.
Ronaldo raced in search of his second and fourth for Portugal, but this time Ati denied it.
Bukari’s header made the final moments more complicated, but Portugal resisted despite a moment of madness from goalkeeper Costa, who almost cost his team dearly when he did not see Inaki Williams behind him.