Watching Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half of Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana on Thursday, you could feel the frustration from the stands.
The striker still looked the part, waving to the crowds and receiving the biggest cheer of anyone when the starting lineups were announced before kickoff.
He was applauded by fans around the stadium and shirts with his name emblazoned on the back could be seen all over Doha, Qatar, in the buildup to the match.
His iconic “SIUU” broke the language barrier with people from all over the world communicating to each other by mimicking the iconic celebration.
But while the 37-year-old’s popularity and star appeal remain relatively unchanged, his performances on the pitch of late haven’t been vintage Ronaldo.
It was the same story up until the 65th minute of the match at Stadium 974, at which point Ronaldo started making yet more history.
If his body might be losing its power, his footballing brain remains as sharp as ever.
With his team searching for the breakthrough, Ronaldo used his body to get in front of Mohammed Salisu and hit the floor when he felt contact from behind.
It was never in doubt who would take the penalty: Ronaldo picked up the ball and rifled it into the top corner of the net before running to his adoring fans in celebration.
The goal had added significance with Ronaldo becoming the first male player in history to score at five World Cups – a feat Brazilian striker Marta became the first player to achieve back in 2019.
It’s yet another record to add to Ronaldo’s glittering career and a reminder to everyone that he can still make the difference when it really matters.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored in the previous four tournaments and now has eight World Cup goals to his name.
Fleeting press conference
Despite winning player of the match and making history on Thursday, Ronaldo wasn’t in a talkative mood.
After the coaches of Portugal and Ghana spoke to reporters in the post-match media conference, it was Ronaldo’s turn to answer questions.
He was smiling when he walked into the media conference, but before many journalists in the room could even start recording what he was saying, Ronaldo was off again.
He delivered a very short answer in Portuguese when asked about his eventful week – his departure from Manchester United was announced on Tuesday – and record-breaking achievement at Qatar 2022.
One journalist estimated that Ronaldo was in the room for just two minutes before leaving.