Last Updated on November 26, 2022 by
Cristiano Ronaldo has been called a “total genius” by Fifa for the way he won a penalty for Portugal in their World Cup win over Ghana.
The 37-year-old made the move to become the first man to score in five different Fifa World Cups.
Portugal won 3-2 but the award of the free-kick outraged Ghana boss Otto Addo, who said it was ‘not a penalty’.
Speaking at a briefing in Doha, Fifa Technical Study Group (TSG) member Sunday Oliseh said the strikers are “getting smarter”.
Led by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, TSG watches every game and provides analysis with performance data and trends.
Nine penalties have been awarded after 20 games in this tournament, which is on track to equal the previous record of 24 awarded in the group stage in Russia four years ago.
Pole Robert Lewandowski and Canadian Alphonso Davies saved their effort while the remaining seven were met.
They include Ronaldo, who went down under a challenge from Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu. Former England defender Matt Upson called it a “dive” in a speech on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Ghana boss Addo was furious after the defeat, telling BeIN Sports: “The referee gave a penalty that wasn’t a penalty – everyone saw that. Why? Because it’s Ronaldo or something?
“The referee was not in our favour.”
But former Nigeria international Oliseh, who played at the 1998 World Cup, thinks Ronaldo was smart in his move to win the penalty that allowed him to score his 118th international goal.
“Maybe the strikers are getting smarter?” said Oliseh.
“Ronaldo’s penalty, people can say whatever they want about him, but the wisdom of waiting for that second, touching the ball, taking his leg and then making contact. It’s totally brilliant.”
“Let’s compliment the strikers that they’ve gotten smarter. VAR is also a major reason why this (give more penalties) happens. Referees can look at it three or four times.”
‘Teams will become braver’
There were four goalless games in the first 16 games, setting a new record of 25% in the first round of group matches.
A fifth followed on Friday as England and the United States tied in their second game of the tournament in Qatar.
The record number of 0-0 draws at the World Cup stands at seven, which came at four different editions of the tournament, but Qatar 2022 is already close to that tally with only 20 of the 64 scheduled games having been completed ahead of Saturday’s games.
At the last World Cup in Russia there was a goalless draw in a group match between Denmark and France.
“The teams didn’t want to take too many risks,” said Oliseh.
“Obviously a lot of teams are taking a cautious approach,” added colleague Alberto Zaccheroni, Japan coach who won Serie A and the Asian Cup with AC Milan.
“But as the tournament progresses, we’ll see teams get a little braver.”
Players ‘feeling comfortable’ with matchball
A total of 49 goals have been scored in the 20 games to Friday 25 November.
In the first round of 16, no goal was scored from outside the penalty area. In the four second round games played so far, two have been scored from distance, which is significantly fewer than at this point in the last two tournaments.
Iran’s Roozbeh Cheshmi broke the trend with a raspy goal against Wales on Friday, while Dutch striker Cody Gakpo scored in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador later in the day.
The “Al Rihla” external link match ball developed for the World Cup is described by Fifa as “travelling faster than any ball” in tournament history.
The government of global football also said the ball “offers the highest level of accuracy and reliability on the pitch.”
TSG member Faryd Mondragon, who scored for Colombia at the 1998 World Cup, told BBC Sport: “Technology has improved the game, it helps the ball, the boots, the gloves, the data. Everything is to improve the game.
“If you have good shooters, any type of ball is fast and dangerous. I’ve spoken to friends from all over the world, this is a ball they all feel comfortable with.
“We goalkeepers always talk about the fast ball, but everything is for the good of the game.”
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