Portugal wins the EURO 2024 qualifier opener as Ronaldo scores a double in milestone appearance

Cristiano Ronaldo set a new record for the most international caps in Portugal’s 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier on Thursday. The world’s star footballer Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal thrashed Liechtenstein in their Group J qualifier match at the Jose Alvalade Stadium. Ronaldo celebrated his 197th cap, surpassing Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa, with a double as he returned to the starting lineup. Portugal forward has now scored a men’s record 120 international goals. Ronaldo tucked away a penalty before slamming a free kick into the top corner of the net.

Portugal started well by dominating with ball possession and scored an eighth-minute opener through Joao Cancelo. Raphael Guerreiro with a curling corner, visiting goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel punches it out but only to Cancelo at the edge of the box. The 28-year-old wing-back player produced a long-range half volley that took a slight deflection through a crowd of players and trickled over the line. The hosts continued to play an attacking game but the Portuguese players were frustrated by solid defense from the visitors.

However, Bernardo Silva doubled Portugal’s lead shortly after the restart of the game. Cancelo was found in space and he put in a low cross, the visitors’ defender got a boot to it but found only silva. The 28-year-old midfielder picked up the loose ball and rifled home with a low effort into the bottom corner. Four minutes later, Ronaldo, who turned 38 last month, scored easily through a penalty after Cancelo had been brought down inside the box. Ronaldo stepped up and fired it into the corner to make it 3-0.

Ronaldo extended his record for the most goals in international football by firing a free kick in the 63rd minute. Ronaldo’s strike went through the wall and also through the hands of Buchel. Portugal held on to the lead and registered a comfortable win. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner found himself dropped from the Portuguese starting XI but justified his selection as captain in new manager Roberto Martinez’s first game in charge. After the match, Ronaldo wrote on his Instagram stating, such good feelings for playing again and scoring for our national team and in a special stadium for me. Proud to be the most capped player ever.

The second round of Group J will take place on March 26 (Sunday). Portugal will face Luxembourg at the Stade de Luxembourg, while Liechtenstein will duel Iceland, at the Rheinpark Stadion.