Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo played a vital role to help Portugal earn a hard-fought 3-1 win over Luxembourg on Tuesday evening as he scored his first goal of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Ronaldo netted his 103rd international goal five minutes into the second half to stop his side from falling foul of a Luxembourg team whose recent performances have defied their small status and tiny population.
The Portugal captain had been controversially denied what looked to have been an added-time winner in Saturday’s draw against Serbia in Belgrade, but this time around, he was not to be denied when he tapped home Joao Cancelo’s cross.
Luxembourg beat the Republic of Ireland last time out and another shock result looked possible when Gerson Rodrigues put the hosts in the lead with a glancing header half an hour into the Group A contest at the Stade Josy Barthel.
Diogo Jota put the European champions back on level terms in first-half stoppage time with a close-range header of his own, finding himself unmarked to nod home Pedro Neto’s cross.
Ronaldo put Portugal ahead and then Joao Palhinha added a third to save Portugal’s blushes and put them top, level on seven points with Serbia, who won 2-1 at Azerbaijan earlier on Tuesday thanks to an Aleksandar Mitrovic brace.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo is now six goals short of Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time record of 109 international strikes.
“The goal before halftime came at the worst time,” said Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz.
“That is the turning point because I would have liked to return to the dressing room at 1-0. After, the individual quality made the difference.”
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By FARPost Reporter