World Cup updates: Ronaldo, Portugal kick off against Ghana – USA TODAY

Portugal continued the string of World Cup upsets on Thanksgiving. They earned three points against a strong Ghana squad. 
Can Serbia join the party against Brazil? 
The Thanksgiving World Cup slate of matches continues with Neymar coming to the table.
Switzerland took down Cameroon 1-0 to kick things off this morning, while Suarez and Uruguay battled Son Heung-min and South Korea to a 0-0 draw in the day’s second match.
Portugal pulled out a 3-2 victory against Ghana. However, it didn’t come without some late-match fireworks. Ronaldo scored in the 65th minute to become the first male player to score in five World Cups. 
Follow every match: Live World Cup scores
Brazil now steps into the spotlight. They begin their World Cup journey armed with nine forwards. Can Neymar set a new Brazilian record for goals scored and help his country hoist the World Cup trophy for the first time in 20 years? 
Serbia will have striker Aleksandar Mitrovic available against Brazil tonight. Mitrovic was nursing a foot injury ahead of group stage play. 
Mitrovic will team with Dusan Vlahovic to attack Brazil with early scoring chances. 
Nine minutes of stoppage time, and Ghana let it all hang out.
The game went end-to-end for a solid five minutes, with Diogo Costa nearly losing the ball 40 yards from his own goal at one point, and then having the ball taken off his foot inside the box in the final seconds. Somehow, Portugal managed to wriggle out of several jams to hang onto the three points.
It didn’t have to be this difficult, and Ghana looks like it could be serious trouble for Uruguay and South Korea, but Portugal leads Group H on three points. — Jason Anderson
Ronaldo, Félix, and Bernardo Silva all come out for Portugal, with Fulham’s João Palhinha and the Benfica duo João Mário Gonçalo Ramos. It’s a move designed to kill the game off, but it immediately goes awry. Ghana substitute Osman Bukari heads home a cross from the left after João Cancelo seems to lose his way. Bukari even celebrates with Ronaldo’s trademark “siuuu” move. Is there time for Ghana to complete a miracle comeback? — Jason Anderson
This game has gone from measured to wild in the blink of an eye.
Ghana, growing in confidence, tried to build another attack, but Portugal made it pay. Bruno Fernandes played an incredible through ball for Félix, who finished from an acute angle past Ati-Zigi to restore Portugal’s lead.
Then, just two minutes later, the Portuguese strike again. AC Milan’s Rafael Leão came on seconds before Félix’s goal, and got on the scoresheet with possibly his first touch. It’s a similar sequence, with Portugal playing in behind the higher line Ghana has taken as the game wore on, and Leão fires past Ati-Zigi. — Jason Anderson
Ghana offer up the perfect response, and it’s 11 in the 73rd minute. A flowing attacking move didn’t quite pan out for Ghana, but Portugal never truly escaped, and André Ayew — Ghana’s captain, who plays his club soccer in Qatar with Al-Sadd — is on the spot after the busy Kudus did excellent work to put a low cross into the goalmouth. — Jason Anderson
Ronaldo and Mohammed Salisu converged inside the box in pursuit of João Félix’s through ball, with the former Manchester United attacker hitting the deck. There’s contact, but enough for a penalty kick? Elfath says yes, and VAR isn’t arriving to overrule the call.
Ronaldo takes the spot kick himself and he powers his shot past Ati-Zigi. It’s 1-0 to Portugal, and Ronaldo is now the first male player to score in five World Cups. — Jason Anderson
William Carvalho, nicknamed the “Velvet Tank,” comes in for Otávio, with Bruno Fernandes moving up onto the forward line. Meanwhile, Alidu Seidu gets a yellow card after fouling João Félix, and there’s nearly a headbutt from Seidu in the aftermath. This game is at a simmer, and Elfath may have a busy final half-hour on his hands if it’s to be kept from boiling over. — Jason Anderson
Both managers stick with the same lineups coming out of the break. Moments into the second half, André Ayew picks up a yellow card, joining Mohammed Kudus in Elfath’s notebook. Meanwhile, Ghana has started to pose more of an attacking threat, getting their first shot attempt of the entire match away and exposing some slightly nervous Portuguese defending. — Jason Anderson
Had things gone a little differently, four Americans could be playing for England on Friday night rather than trying to beat them.
Yunus Musah, Antonee Robinson, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Gio Reyna were all either born in England or grew up there, making them eligible to represent the Three Lions. But each, for different reasons, chose to play for the United States.
Like the country they represent, the USMNT has always been a melting pot. There are children of immigrants and those whose families have been in the United States for generations. Some know nothing but the United States while others were born or grew up in other countries. Some have been citizens since birth while others have parents, or grandparents, who provided the connection.
No matter how they came to being American, however, they are all equally red, white and blue. — Nancy Armour
Portugal has spent nearly every moment of the last 35 or so minutes within 40 yards of Ghana’s goal, but it hasn’t found any openings inside the box since Ronaldo’s goal-that-wasn’t.
Despite Portugal knocking on the door pretty loudly, Ghana has been able to produce the block or interception needed to keep Ati-Zigi from having saves to make. It remains to be seen whether it can make this last for 90 minutes, but Ghana has to be happy about how it has frustrated Portugal so far. — Jason Anderson
Just as Ghana seemed to be settling into a defensive groove, Ronaldo and Mohammed Djiku collided over a hopeful 30th minute pass over the top. Ronaldo won it, took a touch into the box, and fired past Ati-Zigi. American referee Ismail Elfath immediately waved the goal off, though, calling the Portugal captain for a foul.
A narrow call either way, and one Ronaldo was not happy about. — Jason Anderson
Ghana’s Lawrence Ati-Zigi has only had one save to make, but it was a big one.
A turnover quickly saw Ronaldo bearing down on goal, but the St. Gallen goalkeeper charged out fast enough to close the angle and make the stop. Portugal is having plenty of possession, but outside of a nervy couple of minutes on either side of this chance (followed shortly by Ronaldo heading a cross over the crossbar after a corner kick), Ghana is keeping the tempo at a manageable pace and holding its own. — Jason Anderson
Cristiano Ronaldo will start for Portugal and Ghana is going with a 5-4-1 lineup.
Portugal lineup (4-3-3): Diogo Costa; João Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Danilo Pereira, Raphaël Guerreiro; Bruno Fernandes, Rúben Neves, Bernardo Silva; Otávio, Cristiano Ronaldo, João Félix.
Ghana lineup (5-4-1): Lawrence Ati-Zigi; Alidu Seidu, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Mohammed Salisu, Baba Rahman; Mohammed Kudus, Thomas Partey, Salis Abdul Samed, André Ayew; Iñaki Williams
Portugal unsurprisingly gives a start to the now-clubless Ronaldo, who highlights one of the strongest lineups in the tournament. Ghana, meanwhile, will leave Athletic Bilbao forward Iñaki Williams — whose brother, Nico, is also playing in this tournament with the Spanish national team — alone up top in the hopes of a counter-attacking goal. — Jason Anderson
Neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo has won a World Cup during their illustrious careers.
Former USMNT and MLS player Brian Dunseth, as well as Emily Olsen of USA TODAY Sports+, debate what this year’s World Cup might mean for the legacies of two of the most decorated players in the game’s history.
The 22nd World Cup kicks off Sunday in Qatar, featuring 32 elite soccer teams in 64 matches over 29 days. Qatar, with a population of 2.7 million in a country smaller than the state of Connecticut, is the smallest World Cup host nation since Switzerland in 1954. It is also the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament.
Under a well-documented cloud of labor exploitation and human rights abuses, most of the eight lavishly appointed stadiums serving as World Cup sites were built or updated with the ability to cut capacity after the tournament or to be repurposed altogether as part of a sustainability drive. Qatar has pledged 170,000 removed stadium seats to developing countries in need of sports-related infrastructure. 
Here are the eight World Cup stadiums. — Stephen J. Beard
Uruguay and South Korea played to a scoreless tie. Both teams had late chances to score. Attempt missed. South Korea’s Son Heung-Min missed a shot from outside the box at the 90th minute. Uruguay’s Federico Valverde hit the left post from outside the box in the 89th minute. South Korea’s Hwang In-Beom missed from outside the box misses in the 94th minute.
Switzerland striker Breel Embolo was full of emotion after his winning goal against Cameroon, for a variety of reasons.
Scoring any goal at a World Cup is a milestone but for Embolo, Thursday’s strike in the 48th minute of an eventual 1-0 win went much deeper.
Embolo was born in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé and moved to France at age five, before settling in Switzerland shortly afterwards. The Monaco striker has referred to himself as Cameroon’s biggest fan.
Embolo got on the end of a Xherdan Shaqiri cross and powered home a finish from close range, before raising his arms in a muted, if not apologetic celebration.
“I told him, ‘Breel, friendship until the start, then they are your opponents,'” said Switzerland coach Murat Yakin after the game. “Football writes such stories but he completed his mission.” — Seth Vertelney, Pro Soccer Wire.
Uruguay’s Diego Godín almost netted the first goal in the closing minutes of the first half, but he hit the left post on his attempted header from the center of the box. 
After a battle in the midfield, Uruguay has started to find its footing. In the 21st minute Luis Suarez and Darwin Nunez were both looking to get on the end of a cross inside the box. Nunez timed his jump wrong and missed a prime opportunity in front of goal. 
Ten minutes later South Korea had a chance of its own. Hwang Ui-Jo’s  short range shot flew over the crossbar. Still scoreless approaching halftime.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, U.S. men’s national team goalscorer Tim Weah joined Good Morning America to discuss his goal vs. Wales, facing England and his soccer family history. His dad, George, was the 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year and now president of Liberia. 
Son is South Korea’s star. He plays his club soccer for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League. For South Korea, he has 35 goals in 104 international appearances.
Son is wearing a mask against Uruguay due to a left eye socket fracture, which happened earlier this month against Olympique de Marseille in the Champions League. He has not played in three weeks.
“He knows, and we know, that after this injury we cannot rule out any risks,” coach Paulo Bento said.
Son gets the start opposite Jose Gimenez. The South Korean superstar makes his return after fracturing his face Nov. 2 during a Champions League game.
For Uruguay, Luis Suarez makes his fourth World Cup appearance. He will line up next to Darwin Nunez, 23, who is making his 14th overall appearance for Uruguay and third alongside Suarez.
Something bonkers happens at every FIFA World Cup.
The type of moments that make you scream, “what just happened?!?”
From David Beckham’s ejection during the 1998 World Cup and Diego Maradona’s famous “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup to Zinedine Zidane’s shocking headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final and Suarez biting another player, here’s a look at the craziest moments from previous World Cups.
Switzerland won it’s opening game, beating Cameroon 1-0 and Breel Embolo, who was born in Cameroon, scored the only goal. Brazil and Serbia face off to finish opening day fro Group G.
Switzerland’s Breel Embolo, who was born in Cameroon, nails a shot from the center of the box to break the scoreless tie in the 49th minute.
Switzerland and Cameroon went into halftime with the score tied 0-0 as Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer kept Cameroon off the scoreboard, making two saves in the first half.
Whether it was Landon Donovan’s late winner in 2010 or Diego Maradona’s “Goal of the Century” for Argentina in 1986, the World Cup has delivered memorable moments on a global stage for over 90 years. 
Going into this year’s tournament in Qatar, for the first time in the Middle East, these are the top 10 best moments (plus a bonus honorable mention!) from the World Cup’s illustrious history.
With heavy hitters like Brazil and Serbia rounding out Group G, Switzerland and Cameroon will both be eager to pick up points in this game. While Cameroon was swept in 2010 and 2014 group stages, Switzerland has advanced to the knockouts in four of their last five tournament appearances.
Time:  Thursday, Nov. 24 at 5 a.m. ET
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
The focus for this game is on Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, who is working back from a fractured left eye socket he sustained Nov. 1 in Champions League. He is expected to play with a face mask.
“He knows, and we know, that after this injury we cannot rule out any risks,” coach Paulo Bento said.
Time:  Thursday, Nov. 24 at 8 a.m. ET
Stadium: Education City Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
Cristiano Ronaldo has made his displeasure with his former club Manchester United known. So will this World Cup, likely his last, be an audition for a new team? Ronaldo, 37, has assured the drama won’t spill over to country and his former United teammate Bruno Fernandes agreed. At least publicly. 
“Our focus is 100% on the national team and we are 100% focused on what we have to do,” Fernandes said.
Time:  Thursday, Nov. 24 at 11 a.m. ET
Stadium: Stadium 974
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)
You have to be confident to bring nine forwards to the World Cup, and tournament-favorite Brazil did just that. With players such as Neymar and Vinicius Jr., settling for anything less than a trophy could be seen as a failure for this team. 
Time:  Thursday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. ET
Stadium: Lusail Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)


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