Ghana coach slams referee after Ronaldo’s record World Cup goal

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Ghana coach Otto Addo criticized the U.S. referee who awarded the penalty kick that resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup record goal Thursday, calling it “a special gift.”

Ronaldo won and converted the penalty in the second half, making him the first male player to score in five World Cups. Portugal went on to beat Ghana 3-2.

“If someone scores a goal, congratulations. But this was really a gift. Really a gift,” said Addo. “What more can I say? (It was) a special gift from the judge.

Addo’s criticism of American referee Ismail Elfath was so direct that it could land him in trouble with FIFA.

Asked what he thought was the reason for Ghana’s narrow defeat, Addo replied: “The referee.”

Addo felt that Ghana defender Mohammed Salisu had not fouled Ronaldo for the penalty and he complained that the officials did not use VAR to make sure. Salisu’s thigh appeared to make slight contact with Ronaldo’s leg before the Portugal captain went sprawling to the ground.

The 37-year-old Ronaldo, starting what is expected to be his final World Cup, converted the penalty for his piece of history.

“I think it was really the wrong decision,” Addo said. “I don’t know why VAR didn’t show up. There’s no explanation for me. And then it’s difficult against a world-class team when they’re leading.”

Addo is a 47-year-old former Ghana player who is in his first international coaching job and at his first World Cup. He said he even tried to meet with Elfath after the match to ask him about the incident. Addo also complained that Elfath had missed several fouls on his players.

“I tried,” said Addo. “I asked some people outside with FIFA if I could speak to the referee in a calm and quiet way, but they said he is in a meeting and that is not possible.”

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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