How difficult it must be to hate Cristiano. His fiercest critics were rubbing their hands when he missed a penalty against Ireland that prevented him from being the top scorer for teams in history alone. They were sure to laugh later when Ireland took the lead. But with Cristiano you can never claim victory. Usually he sings it. And yesterday he did it again. With two headers in the final minutes, he gave Portugal three points and set his record for international goals with 111 goals. Everyone, including Ali Daei, is watching him from below.
To help Cristiano achieve his record, Fernando Santos lined up a very offensive eleven in which practically only Pepe and Rúben Días had the obligation to defend. Guerreiro and Cancelo quickly registered in the opposite field forming a line of five in the middle with Palhinha, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo, players at full speed. Above, Rafa Silva and Diogo Jota completed the assembly of talents that gathered in Algarve to accompany Cristiano. With so much artist on stage, Ireland knew how to recognize his role. He was not the protagonist, although later he would dare to be. Stephen Kenny’s men locked themselves in their area and challenged the timer to see how long they were able to hold out. Their chance would come.
Nearby was the plan of not arriving after ten minutes, when Bruno Fernandes stole Hendrick’s wallet in the area and he ended up knocking down United’s in his attempt to recover it. The referee signaled a penalty, although the VAR was not so clear. In slow motion, it seems that the Irish center-back touched the ball, but the Slovenian Jug, after seeing it several times, confirmed his decision. As the Irish defenders argued with the referee, Cristiano stole the ball from Bruno and made it clear who throws them in Portugal. And get used to Manchester. Cristiano was so preoccupied with celebrating the goal that he would be decorated as the greatest scorer in the history of the national teams that he neglected to score it. Bazunu lunged to the right and rejected the pitch. Cristiano had to wait.
Portugal had almost all the shareholding of the possession, but, despite dominating its rival in the opposite field, it produced less than expected. In addition to the penalty, in the first half there is only remembered a header to the post by Diogo Jota and a couple of distant shots from him with some danger. Meanwhile, behind, Pepe did his best to put out the fires when the Irish left their midfield, but in the final minutes of the first half he was overwhelmed. Connolly first crashed into Rui Patricio in a heads-up and in the resulting corner, Egan headed into the net a goal that left Portugal out of place just before half-time.
In the absence of productivity, Santos was forced to move the bench. André Silva entered first to give Cristiano more freedom, imprisoned until then among the centrals. Then Joao Mario and Guedes entered to have more clarity in the final meters. Both were participants in the comeback assisting Cristiano in the two goals, which the Portuguese traced with two home-brand headers in the final minutes. Portugal breathes and Cristiano lengthens his legend.