Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 10th international hat-trick as Portugal brushed Luxembourg aside in Group A in World Cup qualifying.
The 36-year-old converted from the penalty spot twice within five electric first-half minutes to cap a blistering start from Portugal.
Having won one of the penalties, Bernardo Silva then slipped in Ronaldo’s teammate Bruno Fernandes, who hammered home Portugal’s third with just 17 minutes on the clock, as the hosts threatened to run riot.
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Ronaldo passed up the opportunity for a first-half hat-trick when he shot straight at goalkeeper Anthony Moris, and after the restart, flashed a toe-poked effort inches wide of the far post.
Moments after tipping over Ronaldo’s sublime bicycle-kick, Luxembourg’s shot-stopper was then caught in no man’s land as Joao Palhinha headed Fernandes’ corner into an empty net for Portugal’s fourth.
: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United and Portugal celebrates with teammate Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United and Portugal after scoring a goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Portugal and Luxembourg at Estadio Algarve
Image credit: Getty Images
But Portugal – and Ronaldo – weren’t finished there.
Racing to the far post to meet Ruben Neves’ deep cross, Ronaldo finally grabbed his treble to complete the scoring with a cushioned header at the back post moments before full-time.
Thanks to Serbia’s 3-1 win over Azerbaijan, however, Portugal remain second in the group – one point behind the leaders although they have played a game less.
TALKING POINT – Ronaldo’s extraordinary night
There was a feel-good atmosphere even before kick-off as supporters returned to Estadio Algarve in their droves. National flags were being waved, ‘Live is life’ by Opus belted out of the stereo; from the very start, it felt like it was going to be one of those special nights for Ronaldo.
The man who loves the spotlight was placed front and centre when Portugal won two early penalties – both converted with ease by the 36-year-old. He hammered the first down the middle. The second effort was arrowed into the right corner only for the referee to order the spot-kick to be re-taken for encroachment. Cool as you like, Ronaldo picked the same spot again, and although the goalkeeper got his hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out.
‘CR7’ wore the look of deep frustration when he missed two gilt-edged opportunities for the match ball, but when an outrageous bicycle-kick attempt almost hit the back of the net, you sensed his treble wasn’t far away. And when it finally arrived, he was forced to wait in suspense as VAR checked for a potential offside. The relief was written all over his face when the goal was given – his 10th international hat-trick complete, his 115th goal for his country.
Portugal: Rui Patricio 6, Cancelo 7, Pepe 6, Dias 6, Nuno Mendes 7, Palhinha 7, Moutinho 7, Fernandes 8, Ronaldo 9*, Andre Silva 8, Bernardo Silva 8.. subs: Leao 5, Guedes N/A, Neves 6, Nunes N/A, Mario 5.
Luxembourg: Moris 5, Pinto 4, Carlson 5, Chanot 4, Jans 4, Thill 3, Barreiro 4, Martins Pereira 4, Sinani 5, S Thill 3, Rodrigues 5.. subs: Veiga N/A, Sanches 6, Deville 4, Muratovic N/A.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Bernardo Silva was a strong candidate for a performance full of endeavour and creativity – until Ronaldo sealed his hat-trick and took the decision out of everyone’s hands.
8′ – GOAL! Portugal 1-0 Luxembourg (Cristiano Ronaldo, pen): It’s an inevitable outcome as Ronaldo almost breaks the net with a fine penalty, followed by his trademark celebration. Goal 113 for the 36-year-old!
13′ – GOAL! Portugal 2-0 Luxembourg (Cristiano Ronaldo, pen): For the third (!) time this evening, Ronaldo beats the goalkeeper Moris with a penalty. And for the third time this evening, he opts for the right corner! This time Moris almost keeps it out, getting a hand to the ball but failing to keep it out.
17′ – GOAL! Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg (Bruno Fernandes): This is getting embarrassing for Luxembourg! Bernardo Silva is at it again, slipping a tidy pass into the feet of Fernandes, who takes a touch before rifling a powerful shot into the far corner from a tight angle.
69′ – GOAL! Portugal 4-0 Luxembourg (Joao Palhinha): Luxembourg’s goalkeeper Moris undoes his good work, getting caught in no man’s land as Fernandes delivers a corner and Palhinha climbs above everyone to head home Portugal’s fourth into an empty net!
87′ – GOAL! Portugal 5-0 Luxembourg (Cristiano Ronaldo): That’s his hat-trick! Was it in ever in doubt?! He races to the far post to meet Neves’ deep cross, perfectly positioned to cushion a header past the goalkeeper. There’s a VAR check for offside, but it’s going to stand!
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