On Thursday night, Cristiano Ronaldo wrote his name in the history books. His goal against Ghana – a penalty just after the hour mark – made him the first player to score in five different World Cups.
This feat is proof of her enduring talent and her long reign over men. No wonder he’s still fighting Lionel Messi to be the official GOAT of world football.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenomenon,” said Portugal head coach Fernando Santos after the match. “In 50 years, we’ll still be talking about it.”
However, the 37-year-old striker finds himself looking for work. His contract with Manchester United was terminated with immediate effect at the beginning of the week – as a result of the explosive interview he gave to Piers Morgan.
After Thursday’s game, he was asked about his future. He turned away. Now only this Portuguese team and the World Cup are on his mind. “The rest doesn’t matter,” he said before leaving the postgame press conference.
Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister helped set the tongues wagging. In an interview they asked the BBC if Ronaldo might be tempted by the Saudi league. After all, the Gulf kingdom is aggressively pushing for global sports.
“Anything is possible,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal. “I would like to see Cristiano Ronaldo play in the Saudi league.”
Messi already has an agreement to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia. Maybe the next holiday brochure will include a package trip to watch Ronaldo.
Must watch on Friday: Qatar’s last chance for redemption
Qatar’s football ambitions have been built at great expense at the Aspire Academy, a state-of-the-art facility in Doha with coaches, sports scientists and other experts from around the world.
The project aimed at building a competitive team – more than a decade in the making – faces its biggest test on the opening day of the tournament. It was a horrible failure, the Qatar national team lost 2-0 to Ecuador.
Even without injured talisman Sadio Mané, Senegal should be a tougher opponent on Friday afternoon. But this is Qatar’s last chance. A loss would guarantee an early exit and push the team’s name into contention for the worst team in the tournament. Qatar’s long-term footballing ambitions then come into question.
Wales vs Iran, 10:00 UK time/13:00 Doha time
Qatar vs Senegal, 1pm UK time/4pm Doha time
Netherlands vs Ecuador, 4pm UK time/7pm Doha time
England vs USA, 7pm UK time/10pm Doha time
The highlight of Thursday: In the first round, the team of potential champions will be mixed
By now, we’ve seen every team play their first game in Qatar, with a few shocks along the way. The favorites list looks a little different as a result.
Brazil remains the most backed team at the World Cup (perhaps thanks to Richarlison’s wonder strike against Serbia). Behind them, however, are now the highly accurate Spain and England, both at 7/1. Holders France are narrower, a little further back, with an impressive 4-1 win over Australia.
Meanwhile, Argentina’s star has fallen at least a little. They are now 19/2 to become world champions for the first time since 1986. But they need to get going pretty quickly: a loss to Mexico at the weekend would prove fatal to those aspirations.
As for Germany, they are 29/1 to win the tournament after a late defeat to Japan. After losing in the first round in 2018, it now faces the threat of a second straight early exit.
Switzerland 1 Cameroon 0
Uruguay 0 South Korea 0
Portugal 3 Ghana 2
Brazil 2 Serbia 0