Football match of the weekend. Ronaldo’s record-breaker. An unlikely winner.
On Monday, the Portugal national team were on the brink of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the team sitting top of Group A with two games to play. After a 2-2 draw against Poland, Ronaldo scored a goal that was more than just him hitting the back of the net—it was the goal that broke the record for the most goals scored in the World Cup by a single player.
The drama of the upcoming World Cup is now well under way, as Portugal’s captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, made his first start of the tournament against Morocco. Ronaldo’s two goals, including a record-breaking stoppage-time winner, helped his side come from behind and secure a 2-1 win over the Atlas Lions.
FARO, Portugal (Reuters) – If anyone still doubts whether Manchester United is getting a Cristiano Ronaldo whose best days are behind him, just ask the shell-shocked Republic of Ireland players who thought they had denied him a goal-scoring world record in the Estadio Algarve, only to see the Portugal captain smash it and then add to it in the final seven minutes of a 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory.
Nobody does tremendous football drama quite like Ronaldo, but this historic night in Faro was right up there with the best of his magnificent career, mainly because he was having one of those evenings when everything appeared to be going against him and his side for 89 minutes. But, at the conclusion of it, he held sole possession of the international scoring record, having been tied with former Iran striker Ali Daei on 109 goals since scoring two against France at Euro 2020.
“I’m ecstatic. I’m overjoyed.” “I just needed one goal, and I got two,” Ronaldo said. “I’m ecstatic with the two goals that earned us the win and the fact that we broke the record.”
“This is a one-of-a-kind album of mine. I’m overjoyed, and it’s another step forward in my career. It’s about my drive and desire to keep playing football, which stems from my most recent contract, in which I was delighted to come home.”
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“It’s important if we get up every day with the desire to encourage and improve, to make our fans and youngsters happy,” he said. “It’s yet another museum record.”
Ronaldo now has 111 goals for Portugal after netting his 110th with a spectacular header from a Goncalo Guedes cross in the 89th minute. And the 36-year-old, who returned to United from Juventus on Monday, did it again with a close-range header from Joao Mario’s cross in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Ronaldo celebrated his score by sprinting away and tearing off his shirt in the process. As a result, referee Matej Jug issued him a yellow card, which means he will be banned for Tuesday’s qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku, although he will be free to report for duty at Old Trafford sooner.
But, although this was a spectacular moment for Ronaldo for all the right reasons, it might have easily came to a stop after only 10 minutes.
Following a Jeff Hendrick foul on Bruno Fernandes, Portugal was given a penalties, and Ronaldo seized the ball for the spot shot, anticipating an easy chance to break the record. At the same moment, he screamed at Ireland’s Dara O’Shea, who collapsed to the ground. Jug was summoned to examine VAR’s penalty judgment, but he was not summoned to investigate the Ronaldo incident for whatever reason.
It was a lucky escape from a red card, but Ronaldo would have thought otherwise moments later when Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, a 19-year-old Manchester City player who was relegated to English football’s fourth tier last season while on loan at Rochdale, dived to his right to save Ronaldo’s penalty. That was Ronaldo’s sixth penalty miss out of 21 in his Portugal career.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may want to speak quietly with his new acquisition about allowing Fernandes to remain the first-choice spot-kick taker at Old Trafford. Ole, good luck with that.
Ronaldo made a furious figure from the time Bazunu saved his penalty. This was not the how the story was meant to end, particularly at a stadium where he had scored more goals (10) than any other in his international career. This wasn’t one of Lisbon’s or Porto’s citadels, but an unimpressive stadium on Portugal’s Algarve coast with two temporary stands.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored both goals in Portugal’s 2-1 comeback victory against Ireland, breaking the men’s international goal-scoring record. Getty
The Portuguese Football Federation selected this site to “help to the region’s economic rehabilitation” due to the effect of the COVID-19 epidemic on the tourist sector in the Algarve, since it is also home to one of the biggest expat Irish populations outside of North America. However, because to continuing COVID-19 restrictions, the attendance was limited to only 7,831 spectators, with no traveling fans permitted. So, when John Egan of Sheffield United put Ireland ahead just before half-time, it seemed like the omens were stacked against Ronaldo and Portugal.
At the opening of the second half, Portugal coach Fernando Santos made a tactical adjustment that allowed Ronaldo to shift to the left and replacement Andre Silva to play through the middle, giving Ronaldo more flexibility to create his own opportunities.
Fernandes, who has struggled to make an impression with Portugal, struggled to make an impact once again, with Santos preferring the ball to be passed via Bernardo Silva. Neither Fernandes nor Silva seemed capable of delivering the ball to their star, and it was excruciating to watch Ronaldo throw his arms in the air in frustration at moments.
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Ronaldo’s desire to score became apparent as the game progressed. Three of his long-range attempts were stopped by Irish players, and in the 89th minute, Bazunu dived full length to knock away a free kick.
With the time ticking and Ireland on the verge of a big Group A victory, Ronaldo did what Ronaldo does best: he made a decisive effect when everyone else had given up. The crowd exploded in delight and relief as Ronaldo scored a world-record-breaking goal with a tremendous jump and precise header.
But for Ronaldo, it wasn’t enough. He may have met his personal goal, but Portugal still needed a victory to keep their World Cup qualifying chances alive, and he delivered once more in the 96th minute. Another right-wing cross, another amazing jump, and the ball settled in the corner of the goal once again.
The crowd erupted once again after the goal. It was a fantastic finish to the game, but you get the sense that for Ronaldo, it was only the beginning of something else.
Now that he has 111 goals in 180 appearances for Portugal, it’s time to move on to the next goal.
Let’s see, 120 goals and 200 games. Don’t bet against him accomplishing anything he sets his mind to. That’s Ronaldo on the left: On a football field, he creates his own tales.
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