Ronaldo scores double as Portugal sink Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG     -    Cristiano Ronaldo continued his record-breaking form for Portugal as he grabbed two more goals in his country’s 6-0 thrashing of Luxembourg in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday, giving them a second win in four days. 

The 38-year-old grabbed a double against Liechtenstein on Thursday and scored twice more in Luxembourg to extend his record tally of international goals to 122 in 198 appearanc­es. Joao Felix, Bernando Silva, Otavio and Rafael Leao added the other goals to put Portugal top of Group J after an easy start to their qualifying campaign. 

New coach Roberto Martinez restored Ronaldo to the start­ing line-up last week and kept faith with him for the match in Luxembourg, where it took only nine minutes for the vet­eran superstar to open the scor­ing as he touched home Nuno Mendes’s soaring header. 

Joao Felix doubled the lead in the 15th minute, rising high to get onto the end of Silva’s cross. Silva then himself headed home a powerful effort three minutes later after being set up by Joao Palhinha. Bruno Fernandes set up Ronaldo for the fourth, just past the half hour mark, with a ball over the defence that was finished with pin-point accuracy. 

Luxembourg looked bedrag­gled in the first half but offered more resistance after the break before Rafael Leao’s looping cross allowed fellow substitute Otavio to head home Portugal’s fifth. Ruben Neves, yet to score for Portugal, struck the cross­bar with a 83rd minute freekick before a penalty was awarded straight after when Luxem­bourg captain Laurent Jans tripped Rafael Leao. 

The AC Milan forward got up off the turf to take the kick but his effort was saved by Luxem­bourg keeper Anthony Moris. But Rafael Leao ran half the length of the field to latch onto Reuben Neves’ pass and cut in­side before squeezing the ball home for a 6-0 scoreline with two minutes remaining. 

Meanwhile, England saw off Ukraine 2-0 to make it two wins from two. England hosted Ukraine at Wembley after having beaten reigning European champions Italy away three days previously. 

Harry Kane tapped in Bukayo Saka’s cross after 37 minutes and Saka curled in a close-range volley three minutes later. The visitors failed to make any threat with only three attempts on goal, with England sealing a comfortable win to lead Group C with a perfect start. 

Italy beat Malta 2-0 thanks to goals from Mateo Retegui and Matteo Pessina. The Azzurri are second in the group, but North Macedonia also claimed three points and have one game in hand over Italy. Slovakia are two points behind Portugal as they defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0. 

Iceland whitewashed Liech­tenstein 7-0 to collect three points after two matches. In Group H, Kazakhstan came from 2-0 down to beat Den­mark 3-2, Slovenia beat San Marino 2-0, and Northern Ire­land lost 1-0 to Finland.

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