Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and set a new record for most appearances for an international team as Portugal defeated Liechtenstein 4-0 in their first Euro 2024 qualifying match on Thursday.
In order to surpass Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa and gain his 197th cap, Ronaldo was reinstated to the starting lineup for their Group J qualifying match at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.
He converted a penalty in the 51st minute to earn his maiden goal against the tiny Alpine principality. Then, he scored a fourth goal with a trademark free kick that rebounded off Benjamin Buchel, the opposition goalie.
Ronaldo said on Instagram after the game, “Such amazing sensations for playing again and scoring for our national team and in a memorable stadium for me. I’m proud to be the person with the most caps ever.
Joao Cancelo gave Portugal the advantage in the eighth minute with a long-range half volley that took a little deflection through a sea of defenders, but the visitors’ solid defending forced Portugal to lose the match.
After Cancelo’s goal-bound run was blocked, Bernardo Silva scored to give the side a 2-0 lead seventy seconds into the second half.
when scoring from the spot when Cancelo was brought down, Ronaldo, who turned 38 last month, added a rasping free kick in the 63rd minute to bring his total number of goals for international competition to 120.
Before being replaced in the 78th minute, when he still had time to complete a hat trick, the captain of Portugal had missed two great chances by skipping the ball in front of goal and sending a header over.
Former coach Fernando Santos opted to rest Ronaldo for the last two games at the World Cup in Qatar last year, when Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarterfinals. After Santos stepped down, Portugal’s first manager was Roberto Martinez, a former manager of Belgium.
According to Martinez, “It was very, very positive,” he told Portuguese television.
“It was an obvious next step given our training effort and mentality. Even though these games are particularly difficult since they are “trap games,” it was vital how we controlled the ball and limited Liechtenstein’s threat.
Despite Ronaldo’s acrimonious departure from Manchester United before to the World Cup and current association with the Saudi club Al Nassr, Martinez maintains that Ronaldo may still play for the national team.
The start of a new cycle. Martinez argues that a player must show dedication and the fact that we may gain from their experience, which is something Cristiano does.