November 25: Kicked out by his club Manchester United, suspended by the Football Association and deemed over the hill by many, Cristiano Ronaldo answered critics in the best possible fashion with another record-breaking display during the World Cup on Thursday.
Two days after Manchester United abruptly ended his second stint at Old Trafford following his criticism of the club, Ronaldo took out his frustration on Ghana as Portugal opened their World Cup campaign with a nervy 3-2 victory, Reuters reported.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner showed that at 37 he retains the magical knack of delivering when it matters, added Reuters.
According to the news agency, Ronaldo went into the match already holding the world record for international goals and he took his total to 118 in the 65th minute with a penalty that made him the first player ever to score in five editions of the men's World Cup.
Meanwhile, the BBC reported that the goal and result will be a welcome distraction from the off-field issues that has clouded Ronaldo's build-up to the tournament.
The frontman, who had earlier missed two big chances and had a goal ruled out, saw his big moment come in the second half, added the BBC. With Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu in close attendance, Ronaldo hit the deck and the American referee pointed to the spot, which he stepped up to convert with aplomb.
“It is easy to talk about Ronaldo in terms of statistics alone, with so many milestones chalked up. But to watch him on Thursday, especially after a week in which he was ditched by United and sanctioned by England's FA for breaking a young Everton fan's phone, was to appreciate exactly what marks him out as many people's greatest of all time,” wrote Reuters.
Remarkably, Ronaldo has now scored in all 10 major tournaments in which he has appeared for Portugal, a run beginning when he was a fresh-faced youngster at Euro 2004, the news agency further reported.
Importantly for Portugal's chances of going deep in Qatar, it was not just the Ronaldo show as his team mates, especially in the second half, took more responsibility. After Ghana surprisingly levelled, it was Joao Felix who restored Portugal's lead with a deft finish and then a sublime run and pass by Bruno Fernandes set up substitute Rafael Leao. But the night, one again, belonged to CR7, Reuters concluded in its news report.