Ronaldo helps Portugal past Luxembourg

01 April 2021 | Sports


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.

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 was 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 the 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 at the 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.

Migrant support

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.

Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have recently staged similar protests, and the Belgian gesture mirrors the one made by their Dutch neighbours with t-shirts emblazoned with the message 'Football supports change'.

Two braces from Hans Vanaken and Leandro Trossard, the Brighton winger's first for his country, and further strikes from Jeremy Doku, Dennis Praet and Christian Benteke gave Belgium a thumping win.

It leaves them three points ahead of the second-placed Czech Republic after they lost 1-0 to Wales in Cardiff in a match which finished with 10 men on each side.

The Netherlands closed the gap on Group G leaders Turkey to one point after they won 7-0 in Gibraltar.

Frank de Boer's team were far from their best but got maximum points after taking a long time to break down their minnow opponents, who were playing in front of a home crowd thanks to Gilbraltar's successful coronavirus vaccine programme.

Steven Berghuis opened the scoring three minutes before the break and in the second half the Dutch managed to make their superiority count.

Luuk de Jong made it two with a 55th-minute tap-in and then three goals in as many minutes from Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen put the Dutch five ahead.

Donny van de Beek lashed home the sixth from close range before Depay added his second of the night to complete the scoring with two minutes remaining.

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