by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
Brazil have arrived in grand style at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The five-time champions are up and running at the greatest show on earth and were the centre of attention, including here in Barbados, as they got their campaign off to a fine start with a comfortable 2-0 win over Serbia at the Lusail Stadium.
After a goal-less first half, Tottenham Hotspur’s Richarlison who was predominately quiet for the first period, gave the Brazilians a deserved lead from inside the box, finishing off a rebound from close range.
However, the goal of the tournament so far came when Richarlison doubled Brazil’s advantage over Serbia.
Neymar produced a moment of magic with sublime skill before delivering a perfect pass for Richarlison to control and volley a bicycle kick into the back of the net.
It sent the Samba fans into a frenzy, and Brazil, the pre-tournament favourites, definitely lived up to the hype and massive expectations ahead of their first game.
The match was one-way traffic, Serbia put up a defensive wall in the first half but offered nothing on the attack, failing to register a single attempt on goal for 90 minutes.
After today’s performance, Brazil should win the group and any team drawn in their path in the round of 16 will be extremely wary given this dominant introduction.
Switzerland got the first win of the day as Breel Embolo produced the lone goal versus Cameroon. Embolo opted not to celebrate the goal against the country where he was born. Meantime, Uruguay and South Korea played to a goalless draw.
In the third match of the day, Portugal’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo created history by becoming the first player to ever score at five consecutive FIFA World Cups as he led his country to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Ghana.
Ronaldo, 37, arguably one of the greatest players the world has ever seen was brought down in the box in the second half. And despite calls for VAR to overrule the penalty decision, the referee stood with it and Ronaldo made no mistake from 12 yards, opting for power and drilling his right-foot effort into the roof of the net.
It’s Ronaldo’s last chance to win the biggest prize in football and after a few controversial days where his Manchester United contract was terminated, the club legend backed up all the talk on the field, with a solid performance.
Ronaldo, a United icon, criticized the club’s manager Erik Ten Hag, and owners the Glazers family.
Nevertheless, regardless of Ronaldo’s off-field issues, he’s a different player for Portugal and he pounced on the goal-scoring chance after he was fouled by Mohammed Salisu.
Before that, he had several early chances and even had a goal disallowed.
While Portugal snatched the all-important three points, credit must be given to Ghana for their resilience and fighting spirit. They never gave up and were on the unlucky side of proceedings twice.
The African players started to look a little better in the second half with
Mohammed Kudus’ opportunity going inches wide of the post but they halved the deficit through captain Andre Ayew from inside the area.
But the Portuguese hit back twice in the space of two minutes to ensure victory.
Joao Felix converted a lovely finish before substitute Rafael Leao scored with one of his first touches in the game. Osman Bukari grabbed a late goal via the aerial route but Ghana never really threatened afterwards.
Qatar 0-3 Senegal
Netherlands 3-1 Ecuador
Wales 2-0 Iran
England 2-1 USA