There are people who thought Cristiano Ronaldo’s career was over when he spurned Major League Soccer to sign in Saudi Arabia last year. It hasn’t hurt his international career one bit, nor his record international goal tally.
Portugal blanked Liechtenstein 2-0 in a Group J match on Thursday, with a goal from the 38-year-old to match Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku as the top scorer in Euro 2024 qualifying.
Despite having already secured their place in next summer’s tournament, Portugal leads their group with 27 points, eight points ahead of second place Slovakia. Liechtenstein remains at the bottom with no points after nine games.
Portugal manager Roberto Martinez chose not to rest any of his regular starters. His team had difficulty against their less-favoured opponents and failed to score in the first half but the stalemate was broken in the first minute of the second half when Diogo Jota’s pass found Ronaldo. The Al Nassr man skillfully maneuvered between two defenders and fired a powerful left-footed shot that grazed the crossbar before finding the back of the net.
The goal increased Ronaldo’s record as the highest men’s scorer in international soccer, bringing his total to 128 goals in 204 matches. He’s not international soccer’s all-time leading goalscorer of any gender, though; every Canadian fan knows who that is.
João Cancelo doubled Portugal’s lead in the 56th minute, capitalizing on a mistake by goalkeeper Benjamin Buechel, who was caught out of position, to score into an unguarded net.
Ronaldo and Portugal host fourth-place Iceland and Sporting CP’s Estádio José Alvalade on Sunday in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Matchday 10.