Euros action night
Thursday, April 1st, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal to a hard-fought 3-1 win over Luxembourg on Tuesday with his first goal of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, while Belgium became the latest team to join the protests over human rights in Qatar before hitting eight past Belarus.
Juventus forward Ronaldo bagged his 103rd international goal five minutes after the break to stop his side falling foul of a Luxembourg team whose recent performances have defied their small status and tiny population.
Ronaldo had been controversially denied what looked to have been an added-time winner in Saturday’s draw against Serbia in Belgrade, but he was not to be denied when he tapped home Joao Cancelo’s cross.
Luxembourg beat the Republic of Ireland last time out and another shock result looked possible when Gerson Rodrigues put the hosts in the lead with a glancing header half an hour into the Group A contest at the Stade Josy Barthel.
Diogo Jota put the European champions back on level terms in first-half stoppage time with a close-range header of his own, finding himself unmarked to nod home Pedro Neto’s cross.
Ronaldo put Portugal ahead and then Joao Palhinha added a third to save Portugal’s blushes and put them top, level on seven points with Serbia, who won 2-1 at Azerbaijan earlier on Tuesday thanks to an Aleksandar Mitrovic brace.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo is now six goals short of Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time record of 109 international strikes.
“The goal before half-time came at the worst time,” said Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz.
“That is the turning point because I would have liked to return to the dressing room at 1-0. After, the individual quality made the difference.”
Belgium’s players donned t-shirts in support of migrant workers building the stadiums for next year’s finals in the Gulf state and then smashed Belarus 8-0 to move top of Group E despite coach Roberto Martinez playing a second-string side. -AFP