Cristiano Ronaldo, you absolute freak.
The Portuguese superstar swept aside a week of off-field drama to become the first male player to score in five FIFA World Cups.
The 37-year-old coolly scored a penalty in the second half to score Portugal’s first goal in the 3-2 win against Ghana in Qatar.
To put that in context, only five players have played in five World Cups, let alone scored in every World Cup.
His old rival for the crown as the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, played on five but only scored in four.
Ronaldo passes Brazilian legend Pele, who scored in four World Cups.
And with no current players on its tail, it could hold the record for a long time.
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In the endless GOAT debate between Ronaldo and Messi fans, this stat is bound to come up now.
Ronaldo stepped up to score from the penalty spot in the 65th minute after being brought down moments earlier.
The crowd chanted “Siuu” – Ronaldo’s traditional goalscoring song which means ‘yes’ in Portuguese – as he ran to the corner to celebrate.
He was pictured in mid-flight during his signature celebration with a hilarious detail in the background of the image.
Media figure Piers Morgan tweeted an image of Ronaldo’s celebration with Messi’s adoring face in the background, as if gazing in awe at his famous rival.
Unsurprisingly, the image sparked another round of the long-running GOAT debate.
Ronaldo probably should have added more weight to his side of the argument in his performance against Ghana.
In the 10th minute he was one-on-one with the keeper but couldn’t get the ball under control. Two minutes later, in typical Ronaldo fashion, he got up for a cross, but his header went wide despite being unmarked.
Not easy opportunities, but opportunities that you would expect a player of his quality to finish.
Even late in the game, Ronaldo had a chance to double his score, but his shot was pushed away by the Ghanaian goalkeeper.
With the three points secured, Ronaldo was sent off in the 84th minute. He was later named player of the match to round off a great night for the superstar.
It was a bright moment in a difficult week for Ronaldo, who left Manchester United by mutual consent after criticizing the club in an explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
It means that Ronaldo is the only player in Qatar without a club to return after the World Cup.
Not that he cares now.
Later on Thursday, World Cup favorites Brazil will launch their bid for a record-extending sixth world title against a dangerous Serbian team.
Brazil boasts an array of attacking talent, including Paris Saint-German striker Neymar and Real Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Coach Tite will be wary of his Group G opponents after already seeing shock defeats to Argentina and Germany in Qatar.
“In my opinion, these players (strikers) will help Neymar because they can divide the responsibility and create space for him,” said experienced Brazilian captain Thiago Silva.
“The atmosphere in the squad is super healthy,” he added. “The mix of young players and more experienced players makes for a great bond.” Serbia seems a more dangerous proposition than four years ago, when they also faced Brazil in the group stage, but lost 2-0 and went out in the first round.
“We are not afraid of anyone in the world, not even Brazil,” said Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who hopes prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic will be fit for the match at Lusail Stadium.
– With AFP