Ronaldo clockwatch: Cristiano seals place in World Cup history as Portugal edge thriller

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Cristiano Ronaldo has had quite the fortnight.

His inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan was only made public on Sunday, November 13, and not aired in full until a few days later.

Yet by Tuesday, November 21, Ronaldo had got his wish. His second spell at Manchester United had been brought to a close by mutual agreement.

That meant that international football's record goalscorer started Portugal's World Cup campaign - and his fifth appearance at an edition of FIFA's flagship competition - as a free agent.

Named in Fernando Santos' starting XI against Ghana at Stadium 974 on Thursday, Ronaldo, who on Wednesday revealed a new partnership with watchmakers Jacob and Co (he might not have a club as it stands, but the endorsement offers are clearly not drying up), was the centre of attention... as he always is.

He scored. Of course, he scored, and his name is now in the World Cup record books. But just how did he get on through a match that started slowly, but almost became a classic.

Ronaldo's Clockwatch

2: Ronaldo got things started in the Group H clash, rolling the ball to Bernardo Silva at kick-off. He was involved again in the second minute when he fouled Baba Rahman, clattering into the full-back down on the touchline.

8: The 37-year-old did not have another touch until he laid a simple pass off to a team-mate in midfield.

10: A sloppy mistake as Ghana attempted to play their way out from the back saw Ronaldo put through on goal, but his heavy touch allowed goalkeeper Lawrence Ati-Zigi to smother the chance. That being said, Ronaldo appeared to have been in an offside position, anyway.

13: This one would have counted, and should have been put away. Raphael Guerreiro's left-footed out-swinging corner to the far post gives Ronaldo the perfect chance to display his prowess in the air. He gets on the end of it, but can only glance his header wide.

17: Ronaldo tried to link up with Joao Cancelo, but his pass back to the Manchester City full-back was overhit.

31: He had the ball in the net with a fine finish from a tight angle, yet his celebrations are swiftly cut short, with the referee having deemed Ronaldo to have fouled a defender on his way through to goal.

32: Buoyed by 'scoring', Ronaldo got the crowd going with some wonderful footwork, escaping two defenders before drawing a foul from Rahman. The twinkle toes of old were back.

42: Sent through by Bernardo down the left, Ronaldo couldn't quite engineer space for a clear shot at goal, with his eventual effort blocked.

52: Ghana failed to have a single touch in Portugal's box in the first half, but came out with renewed vigour after the restart. Ronaldo tried to get things back on track by knocking it around a defender and into the box, but his path to goal was swiftly cut off.

62: PENALTY! This time, Ronaldo was successful in regaining the momentum for Portugal, as he nipped into the box and went down under pressure from Mohammed Salisu. It appeared a harsh decision by referee Ismail Elfath, but VAR did not intervene.

65: Ronaldo makes no mistake, sending a well-struck penalty over the diving Ati-Zigi. Ghana's goalkeeper stuck up a hand, but couldn't get to it. In the process, Ronaldo became the first player to score in five separate World Cups.

74: Portugal's lead lasted just seven minutes, with Andre Ayew restoring parity for the Black Stars, to the jubilation of their travelling contingent, raucous all game. Ronaldo kicks things back off, his strike having been quickly cancelled out.

78: Ronaldo is over celebrating with his team-mates after Joao Felix restored Portugal's advantage. A mistake from Rahman allowed the Atletico Madrid forward to get through and, though Ronaldo was in support, Joao Felix went for goal and duly put his shot away.

83: With Rafael Leao having seemingly put the game to bed, scoring with his first touch just 45 seconds after coming on as a substitute, Ronaldo looked set to add a fourth as he races through from the halfway line, but Ati-Zigi made a fine stop. It would not have counted, though, with the referee spotting a foul in the build-up.

88: Game up for Ronaldo. He makes way to a standing ovation from the Portugal fans, having sealed his place in World Cup history.

89: A minute later, Ronaldo fumed from the bench as he watched Osman Bukari mimic his famous celebration, having given Ghana hope. He faced an anxious wait, particularly when a mix-up at the back almost gifted Ghana a third, but fortunately for Portugal, the Black Stars could not find an equaliser in a frantic finish, with the veteran visibly relieved as the final whistle was blown.

In an active outing, Ronaldo finished up with four shots, all from inside the area, with two of those hitting the target.

He had nine touches in the opposition box and was a regular threat, though he was not active as a creative force, not creating a chance for his team-mates (Bruno Fernandes led the match with three key passes).