Qatar 2022: Portugal Winger Rafael Leao Caught Smiling Before He Scored Against Ghana

Qatar 2022: Portugal Winger Rafael Leao Caught Smiling Before He Scored Against Ghana

Elijah Odetokun
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:18 PM
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  • AC Milan winger Rafael Leao came off the bench to score on his World Cup debut for Portugal in a 3-2 win over Black Stars
  • The Portuguese broke the Ghanaian resolve despite a stalemate in the first half and a spirited late fight back was not enough
  • Rafael Leao is no stranger smiling while on the ball as he does that regularly for Serie A giants AC Milan where he plays his club football

Portugal, one of the most talented squads at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup endured nervy moments as they defeated the Black Stars of Ghana 3-2 in a very strong showing from the African nation.

AC Milan star Rafael Leao came off the bench and scored within three minutes of his World Cup debut. The quick feet winger was caught smiling even before the ball hit the back of the net.

Rafael Leao, Portugal, Ghana, FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022
Portugal's Rafael Leao smiling before his shot scored against Ghana. Photo by Richard Heathcote.
Source: Getty Images

The game came to life in the second half with five goals, despite the first half ending in a stalemate with Cristiano Ronaldo having a goal ruled out for a foul and Ghana making no touch in the opposition box.

Ronaldo set a new record after breaking the deadlock from the penalty spot, albeit a penalty Ghanaians feel cheated on with as they believe Ronaldo dived.

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Rafael Leao is always smiling

Rafael Leao smiling while in action may have come on the big stage and as a surprise but not to fans of the Serie A and those who have watched him in the UEFA Champions League.

Leao, who is being watched by many of Europe's top sides, is mostly all smiles. AC Milan head coach Stefan Pioli spoke about it to the Guardian, he admitted to being worried at first but later realised it was natural to him:

“It’s beautiful to be yourself. Having fun is fundamental. That’s a thing that we look for. We try to be as serious as possible, committed and professional. But football is passion, enjoyment.” Pioli said.
Rafael Leao, Tariq Lamptey, FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022, Portugal, Ghana
Rafael Leao smiling as he moves past Ghana's Tariq Lamptey. Photo by Cleave Brunskill.
Source: Getty Images

Should Rafael Leao leave Milan?

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Leao's World Cup outing will send a message to AC Milan to meet his new contract demands or push his suitors to splash the cash to sign him.

Next season could be Leao's last season in Italy as his current contract is set to expire in 2024 and a new one is yet to be agreed before he departed for the World Cup.

Chelsea have shown interest in Leao and are ready to pay to secure his services. A goalscoring World Cup debut further boosts his profile as a player who can do it at any stage, one Milan would love to keep, one Chelsea would love to have.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.