Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Portugal beat Ghana 3-2; Uruguay, S Korea play goalless draw

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo shrugged off his bitter split with Manchester United to claim yet another record as he became the first player to score in five World Cups with a penalty to help steer his side to a nervy 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday.
The first half of the Group H clash was forgettable apart from a couple of Ronaldo chances, but it burst into life after the interval as Portugal belatedly began their campaign.
Ronaldo, a free agent after his second stint at Old Trafford ended abruptly on Tuesday, thumped home a dubiously-awarded penalty in the 65th minute after an innocuous coming together with Mohammed Salisu saw the referee point to the spot.
Ghana did nothing in the first half apart from defending deeply but gave their noisy bank of fans in the 974 Stadium something to cheer when Andre Ayew equalized in the 73rd minute.
Joao Felix restored Portugal’s lead five minutes later, however, and Ronaldo then showed his class with a jinking run before sliding a pass to Rafael Leao to leave Ghana stunned.
Osman Bukari’s 89th-minute headed reply set up an anxious ending for Portugal but they survived nine minutes of stoppage time to win their opening game of a World Cup for the first time in their last four appearances.
Embolo gives Swiss 1-0 victory over Cameroon
Switzerland edged Cameroon 1-0 courtesy of a goal against the run of play by apologetic Breel Embolo versus the country of his birth for an opening win in World Cup Group G at the Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday.
Embolo,born in Yaounde but raised in Basel, struck three minutes after the restart from a Xherdan Shaqiri cut-back to put the Swiss top of the group. The 25-year-old refused to celebrate the goal on his 60th international appearance, lifting his hands in the air and frowning as the small group of Swiss fans cheered wildly at Al Janoub Stadium.
“We know his story. I told him before the game ‘Breel, friendship until the start, then they are your opponents,” Switzerland coach Murat Yakin said.
“Football write such stories but he completed his mission. I am very happy with his performance.”
South Korea holds Uruguay to 0-0 draw
Another favored team has failed to impress in the early stages of the World Cup. This time it was South Korea holding South American power Uruguay to a 0-0 draw on Thursday, a result that probably favors the Asian team.
The draw at Education City Stadium was yet another early World Cup match with a surprising result. Argentina and Germany both lost their opening matches in major upsets.
South Korea, with forward Son Heung-min wearing a mask to protect a broken left eye socket, always looked the more likely to score against the more experienced Uruguayans. The South Koreans were quicker, pressing from the opening whistle.
Some South Korean fans wore Batman-like masks in solidarity with Son. However, in a match with few clear scoring chances, Uruguay had the best chances: Diego Godin hit the post with a header in the 43rd minute and Federico Valverde hit it in the 89th.
Uruguay will next face Portugal in Group H while South Korea plays Ghana.
South Korea attacked from the start and Son excited the crowd every time he touched the ball.
He managed only one threatening attack in the first half, however, and did less in the second.
South Korea always looked quicker than Uruguay, but not necessarily the more dangerous. The team’s best chance came in the 34th minute when Hwang Ui-jo sailed a close-range attempt over the crossbar.
As the half wore on, Uruguay began to take more possession but always seemed more cautious, taking less initiative despite having the more experienced players.
Son went down in a heap early in the second half with Martin Caceres getting the first yellow card of the match.
Uruguay coach Diego Alonso sent in Edinson Cavani for Luis Suarez in 64th minute as the pace of the match slowed until Valverde hit the post in the final minutes.
Belgium spoils Canada’s WC return with 1-0 win
Thibaut Courtois saved an early penalty and Michy Batshuayi scored the only goal to give Belgium a 1-0 win over Canada at the World Cup on Thursday, spoiling the North American team’s return to the tournament after 36 years.
The Canadians have yet to collect a point or even score a goal in four World Cup matches, which includes the three games from their debut in 1986.
Still, they outplayed second-ranked Belgium at times at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, with Alphonso Davies — the star of Canada’s team — squandering the best chance when his penalty was blocked by Courtois. Canada had 21 shots compared to the nine of Belgium.

Son Heung-min, right, discusses with referee Clement Turpin.
Switzerland’s Breel Embolo reacts after scoring. (AP/PTI)

FRIDAY’S MATCHES
Wales vs Iran—3:30pm
Qatar vs Senegal—6:30pm
Netherlands vs Ecuador—9:30pm
England vs USA—12:30am

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