Sports Desk, Sep 1 (EFE).- Portugal came from behind Wednesday to beat Ireland 2-1 with a double from captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who set a new mark for most international goals in men’s soccer to put his side atop Group A in the European qualifiers for World Cup 2022.
The 36-year-old striker pulled level with retired Iranian great Ali Daei at 109 goals earlier this summer during Euro 2020.
With Portugal facing a not very formidable opponent, expectations were high for Ronaldo to break the record.
Bruno Fernandes was taken down in the Ireland area in the 10th minute and after an extensive look at the replays, the referee awarded a penalty and Ronaldo strode to the spot to take the kick.
But Irish goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu guessed correctly and denied the five-time Ballon d’Or winner – to the shock of the nearly 8,000 spectators in the stands at Estadio do Algarve in Faro.
Buoyed by their keeper, Ireland pressed forward and got their reward just before the break, when John Egan headed-in a corner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The home side were much better in the second half, yet Ireland remained ahead until the 89th minute, when Ronaldo beat Bazunu with a thunderous header.
Cristiano won it for the hosts with another header deep into stoppage time.
Portugal are first in Group A with 10 points, 3 more than Serbia, who have a match in hand. Luxembourg, 2-1 winners Wednesday over Azerbaijan, have 6 points.
Ireland and Azerbaijan are both on zero points. EFE