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 Eurocup in Germany 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 at Saudi club Al-Nassr, played his 197th cap as an international and thus surpasses the Kuwaiti Bader Al-Mutawa, with whom he shared the record.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also holds the record for goals in a national teaml since September 1, 2021 when he scored a brace against Ireland and surpassed Iranian Ali Daei and his 109 goals. With his double this Thursday he adds 120.
Portugal began its 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 by Morocco (1-0), a tournament that CR7 finished as a substitute and faced the coach.
“It is clear that you 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 group’s attitude 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.
– Party in the stands –
Before the Manchester City midfielder’s goal, Portugal had been ineffective, with several chances not being used, including a high header from Ronaldo (22), which then met with goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel (27).
After an hour of play it was time for CR7, first by scoring a penalty, forced by Cancelo, and then with a free-kick shot from the house. 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.
With his double in his pocket, Ronaldo was replaced by Gonçalo Ramos, the player who took ownership in Qatar-2022. The fans greeted him with applause and cheers.
with his triumph, Portugal is at the top of group J qualifying for the Eurocup. 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.