As drama swirls around Cristiano Ronaldo off the pitch, he made history on it on Thursday.
The Portugal striker scored on a penalty kick in a win over Ghana. When the ball hit the back of the net, he became the first man to score a goal in five separate World Cups. The goal broke a scoreless tie in the 64th minute and proved to be the difference in the 3-2 win.
The goal also added to Ronaldo’s record tally that now stands at 118 goals in international play.
“This was a beautiful moment,” Ronaldo said after the game. “The world record, the only player to score in five World Cups, makes me very proud.”
Ronaldo started World Cup play in 2006 in Germany and scored his first World Cup goal that year against Iran. He’s played and scored in every World Cup since in South Africa, Brazil and now Qatar.
The goal momentarily shifted the focus back to soccer for Ronaldo, who entered the World Cup play amid a messy breakup with Manchester United. The Premier League club announced on Tuesday that it had terminated its contract with the 37-year-old star days after Ronaldo criticized Manchester United in a candid interview with Piers Morgan. The news of the split took shifted focus from World Cup play ahead of Portugal’s match with Ghana.
“The important thing was that the team won,” Ronaldo said after Thursday’s win. “The [Manchester United] chapter is closed, and the focus is solely and exclusively on the World Cup. As I said, we wanted to start off on the right foot. We won, we played well, I helped the team. Everything else is not important. The important thing is the national team.”
With Thursday’s win, Portugal took control of the Group H standings with three points. It’s ahead of South Korea and Uruguay, which each earned one point with a tie. Portugal next plays Uruguay on Monday.