The Malta Independent 25 October 2020, Sunday

Nations League: Ronaldo reaches century of international goals for Portugal

Associated Press Wednesday, 9 September 2020, 07:14 Last update: about 3 months ago

Add 100 international goals to the extraordinary list of milestones achieved by soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 35-year-old Ronaldo become just the second male player to reach a century of goals for a national team when he curled a free kick into the top corner from 25 meters for the first of his two strikes in Portugal’s 2-0 away win against Sweden in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Scoring one of the best goals of his international career was a fitting way to enter the “100 Club,” where he joins former Iran striker Ali Daei, and he wheeled away in delight in an empty Friends Arena in Stockholm before performing his trademark celebration — the mid-air pirouette.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ronaldo, who was playing in his 165th game for Portugal, then added a second goal — another curler into the top corner — and needs nine more to surpass the international record of 109 scored by Daei from 1993-2006. The five-time world player of the year already holds the record for goals in the Champions League with 131 — 16 more than nearest rival Lionel Messi — and has now scored an international goal for the 17th straight calendar year.

Portugal has won its two opening group games after beating Croatia 4-1 on Saturday, when Ronaldo was absent because of a toe infection.

Belgium and France also have maximum points. The top-ranked Belgians beat Iceland 5-1 and France defeated Croatia 4-2 — the same scoreline as the 2018 World Cup final.

England drew 0-0 at Denmark in Copenhagen.

GIROUD NEARS RECORD

Oliver Giroud moved to within one goal of Michel Platini’s national record for France by converting a penalty to complete the victory over Croatia at the Stade de France.

The striker was handed the opportunity to move onto 40 international goals by Antoine Griezmann, who gave away penalty duties having missed his last three for France. Giroud made no mistake in the 77th minute.

A well-taken individual goal by center back Dejan Lovren put Croatia ahead, but Anthony Martial set up Griezmann for the equalizer before sliding in for a shot that hit the post, struck goalkeeper Dominik Livaković on the back of the head, and rebounded into the net.

Martial, starting for France for the first time since March 2018, was only in the lineup because Kylian Mbappé was missing after testing positive for the coronavirus on Monday.

Josip Brekalo made it 2-2, only for defender Dayot Upamecano to regain the lead for France before Giroud's penalty.

Eduardo Camavinga came on for his France debut during the second half, becoming the youngest player to represent France since the second world war at 17 years, 10 months.

DE BRUYNE CELEBRATES

Kevin De Bruyne celebrated becoming English football's player of the year by setting up two of Belgium's goals in its comeback win over Iceland.

The Manchester City midfielder didn't get on the scoresheet, though, with striker Michy Batshuayi netting in either half and Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens and Jeremy Doku also scoring.

Iceland had gone in front through Holmbert Aron Fridjonsson.

Belgium began Group 2 play with a 2-0 win at Denmark on Saturday.

ENGLAND HELD

A difficult few days for England coach Gareth Southgate ended with his team being held to a tame draw against Denmark, though Harry Kane came close to snatching victory when his late shot was cleared off the line.

England was without highly rated youngsters Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden, who were sent home for breaching coronavirus rules in Reykjavik after making their international debuts in the 1-0 win over Iceland on Saturday. Video posted on social media video appeared to show the players meeting women from outside the team bubble.

Midfielder Kalvin Phillips and center back Conor Coady started for their England debuts, while attacking midfielder Jack Grealish came on in the second half for his debut.

  • don't miss