Portugal defeated Liechtenstein (4-0) and its captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who broke the record for games with a national team by reaching 197, signed a double, this Thursday in Lisbon at the start of qualifying for the German Eurocup 2024.
CR7 scored from a penalty (51) and a direct free kick (63) to complete a win that Joao Cancelo (8) and Bernardo Silva (47) had opened. The 38-year-old striker, now with the Saudi club Al-Nassr, played his 197th international game, surpassing Kuwaiti Bader Al-Mutawa, with whom he shared the record.
The five-time Ballon d’Or player also holds the record for goals in a national team since September 1, 2021 when he scored twice against Ireland and surpassed Iran’s Ali Daei and his 109 goals.
With his double this Thursday, he adds 120. Portugal began his new stage with a comfortable victory, with the Spanish Roberto Martínez on the bench, replacing Fernando Santos, fired after the World Cup in Qatar in which the Portuguese team was eliminated in the quarterfinals for Morocco (1-0), a tournament that CR7 finished as a substitute and faced the coach.
“It is clear that we have to improve and get to know the players. But I am very satisfied with what we have managed to do after only three days of work. I liked the attitude of the group a lot,” said Martínez, former Belgium coach.
Facing the 198th nation in the FIFA rankings, Portugal did not have to step on the accelerator. Cancelo opened the scoring, with a long shot that touched Ronaldo, and Bernardo Silva, with a leisurely shot from inside the area, widened the difference.
The madness in the stands for Cristiano’s record
Prior to the goal from the Manchester City midfielder, Portugal had been ineffective, with several chances not being used, including a high header from Ronaldo (22), which then found goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel (27).
After an hour of play, it was CR7’s time, first by scoring a penalty, forced by Cancelo, and then with a house-mark free kick.
TO CELEBRATE THE RECORD! On the day where he became the player with the most matches in his National Team, CR7 put her against a stick to score 3-0 in Portugal vs. liechtenstein.
📺 Watch the game for #StarPlusLA pic.twitter.com/xFBhsbdrzo
– SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) March 23, 2023
The fans chanted the name of the legend in his first appearance for the Portuguese team since he left European football to play in Saudi Arabia.
This guy represents all the bichiboys, we will celebrate each and every one of his goals until Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t play football anymore.
I hope he never retires. pic.twitter.com/2dMpTd93tO
— Mario (@Mario___RM) March 23, 2023
With his double in his pocket, Ronaldo was replaced by Gonçalo Ramos, the player who took the title from him in Qatar-2022. The fans greeted him with applause and cheers.
With his victory, Portugal is at the head of group J of the qualification for the Eurocopa. It has three points, like Bosnia-Herzegovina, which this Thursday beat Iceland (3-0). The Seleção will continue their qualifying campaign for the next Euro Cup on Sunday in Luxembourg.
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