Five memorable Cristiano Ronaldo international moments

Five memorable Cristiano Ronaldo international moments
Captain <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/players/3903793" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Cristiano Ronaldo;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Cristiano Ronaldo</a> collected <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/teams/portugal/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Portugal;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Portugal</a>'s first international trophy at Euro 2016 after watching most of the match from the bench (FRANCISCO LEONG)
Captain Cristiano Ronaldo collected Portugal’s first international trophy at Euro 2016 after watching most of the match from the bench (FRANCISCO LEONG)

Cristiano Ronaldo, already the men’s world record holder for international appearances, is set to reach another milestone on Tuesday with his 200th cap when Portugal visit Iceland in Euro 2024 qualifying.

AFP Sport looks at five memorable moments from Ronaldo’s 20-year international career.

– First international goal –

Ronaldo made his international debut at 18 as a substitute, coming on for another Portuguese icon Luis Figo, in August 2003. His major tournament debut came the following summer when Portugal hosted Euro 2004 and he marked it with his first Portugal goal. Ronaldo scored off the bench in a surprise 2-1 opening loss to eventual champions Greece. He was a starter by the time Portugal lost the final. 

– First World Cup –

At the age of 21 years and 132 days, Ronaldo became his country’s youngest scorer at a World Cup when he converted a penalty against Iran at the 2006 finals in Germany.

He attracted less positive attention when he protested enthusiastically to the referee after England’s Wayne Rooney stamped on Ricardo Carvalho in the quarter-finals. Ronaldo was caught on camera winking as his Manchester United teammate was sent off.

Ronaldo converted the winning kick in the shootout but Portugal then lost in the semi-finals to France.

– First trophy –

Portugal were eliminated in the first knock-out round at the 2008 Euros and 2010 World Cups, the semi-finals of the 2012 Euros and the group stage in the 2014 World Cup, but Ronaldo, and Portugal, at last collected an international trophy at the 2016 Euros in France.

Ronaldo scored three goals on the way to the final as well as the decisive spot kick in a shootout against Poland in the quarter-final. But in the final against France he was stretchered off after 25 minutes. Eder scored the game’s only goal in extra-time and captain Ronaldo still lifted the trophy.

“It was not the final I wanted but I am very happy. It is a trophy for all Portuguese, for all immigrants, all the people who believed in us, so I am very happy and very proud,” Ronaldo said at the victory parade in Lisbon.

– Hat-trick hero –

Including two four-goal outings, Ronaldo has scored 10 hat-tricks for Portugal.

The bulk have come against relative minnows such as Andorra, Armenia, the Faroe Islands, Lithuania (twice), Luxembourg and Northern Ireland.

But one gave Portugal a 3-2 victory in a World Cup playoff in Sweden in 2013. Ronaldo scored all four goals as Portugal won 4-2 on aggregate.

He also hit three in a World Cup group game against Spain in Russia 2018, including an 88th-minute equaliser from a free kick. The game ended 3-3 and Portugal eventually went through by one point over Iran.

When Portugal hosted the inaugural Nations League finals in 2019, Ronaldo hit all three in a 3-1 semi-final victory over Switzerland in front of an adoring crowd in Porto.

“I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he’d go,” said Portugal manager Fernando Santos after the game. “He’s a genius. There’s genius paintings and sculptures and he’s a football genius!”

Portugal beat the Netherlands in the final to collect a second international trophy.

– Record man –

Ronaldo ended his long pursuit of Ali Daei’s men’s international scoring record with a goal that mattered, not just in the record books but to his country.

Ronaldo entered a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in Faro in 2021 tied with the Iranian on 109.

Ronaldo had an early penalty saved by teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu before Ireland took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Ronaldo levelled with the record-breaking goal in the 89th minute before sealing victory with a header six minutes into added time.

“This record is mine and it is unique. I’m extremely happy and it’s another one for my career,” said Ronaldo, who has since increased his total to 122 international goals.

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