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Record-breaking Ronaldo rescues Portugal with late double in World Cup qualifying

Updated: 2021-09-02 09:32
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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after the match against the Republic of Ireland in Estadio Algarve, Almancil, Portugal, Sept 1, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time top scorer in men's international football with two late goals as Portugal beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1, while holders France drew 1-1 with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022 World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

A day after completing his return to Manchester United, Ronaldo had an early penalty saved by teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu in Faro before Ireland took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

John Egan's glancing header put Stephen Kenny's side on course for a famous win, but Ronaldo broke Irish hearts with an 89th-minute equaliser -- a goal that took him past the Iranian Ali Daei's record of 109.

The 36-year-old Ronaldo then snatched all three points for Portugal in the sixth minute of injury time, rising highest to power in a header from Joao Mario's right-wing cross.

"This record is mine and it is unique. I'm extremely happy and it's another one for my career," Ronaldo told RTP public television.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner also equalled Sergio Ramos's European mark of 180 caps.

"(The motivation comes from) the desire I have to continue playing football, also from this last contract I signed (at Manchester United), in which I was happy to return home," said Ronaldo.

"Scoring goals, putting on a show and winning titles, that's what I like the most."

Portugal sit top of Group A with 10 points from four matches, although Serbia are only three points behind with a game in hand.

The group winners qualify automatically for next year's finals in Qatar, with the runners-up heading into the play-offs.

AFP

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