Ronaldo The History Maker Saves Portugal Again
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice late in the game to give Portugal the victory over Ireland.
With two late goals in a 2-1 win against the Republic of Ireland, Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in men’s international football, while holders France drew 1-1 with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022 World Cup qualification on Wednesday.
Ronaldo had an early penalty saved by young goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu in Faro a day after completing his return to Manchester United before Ireland took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Stephen Kenny’s side appeared to be on course for a famous triumph after John Egan’s glancing header, but Ronaldo crushed Irish hearts with an 89th-minute equalizer — a strike that lifted him over Iranian Ali Daei’s 109th goal.
Home the sixth minute of injury time, the 36-year-old Ronaldo stole all three points for Portugal, rising highest to slam in a header from Joao Mario’s right-wing cross.
“This record is mine and it is unique. I’m extremely happy and it’s another one for my career,”
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also equalled Sergio Ramos’s European mark of 180 caps.
“(The motivation comes from) the desire I have to continue playing football, also from this last contract I signed (at Manchester United), in which I was happy to return home,” said Ronaldo.
“Scoring goals, putting on a show and winning titles, that’s what I like the most,” Ronaldo said in an interview with reporters after the match.
With 10 points from four games, Portugal leads Group A, albeit Serbia is only three points behind with a game in hand.
The group winners will automatically qualify for the finals in Qatar next year, while the runners-up will compete in the play-offs.
France fell behind in Strasbourg when Edin Dzeko rifled in a low shot from 20 yards for the first time since losing to Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020.
Dzeko’s header from a corner met Griezmann and rebounded barely over the line, bringing France level, but Jules Kounde was sent off for a reckless tackle early in the second half for the hosts.
France leads Group D by four points over Ukraine, who were held to a 2-2 draw away to Kazakhstan after conceding a last-gasp goal. Finland is six points behind the leaders, although they have two games in hand.
“Qualifying stages are difficult,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
“We have to be satisfied with a draw given what happened. We have one point more, there are still lots more available and the match on Saturday is coming very quickly.”
In Norway’s 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in Oslo, Erling Haaland scored his first World Cup qualifying goal.
On 20 minutes, Haaland’s scruffy finish put Norway ahead, but Davy Klaassen equalized before halftime as Louis van Gaal began his third spell as manager of the Dutch national team.
The top four teams in Group G are separated by one point, with Turkey leading despite losing a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against Montenegro at home.
Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runner-up, drew 0-0 in Russia to maintain their lead in Group H on goal difference over their opponents. After a 1-1 tie with Slovenia, Slovakia is down a point.
Denmark blasted Scotland aside 2-0, making it four wins from four in Group F, thanks to two early goals from Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle.
After Eran Zahavi scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 victory in the Faroe Islands, Israel is their closest rival. Following a 2-0 win in Moldova, Austria is level on points with Moldova.
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