Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a brilliant brace Portugal powered past Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League.
After drawing their opening match of Group 2 1-1 with Spain, Portugal set-up an epic top-of-the-table clash with Czech Republic on Thursday by demolishing the Swiss in Lisbon.
Inspired as ever by the goalscoring of their captain Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal rode out a sluggish start to the game and romped away from their visitors with a devastating display of counter-attacking football.
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The game started with a Switzerland goal being ruled out five minutes into the game and the drama only picked up from there. 15 minutes into the game a Cristiano Ronaldo snapshot was saved by Gregor Kobel but William Carvalho appeared to tap home the rebound.
Switzerland offered some decent resistence and appeared to be in the game until a staggering counter-attack just after the half hour ended their resistence. A ball down the right was headed into the path of Bruno Fernandes and the Man Utd man did excellently to race onto it and cut the ball across for Diogo Jota.
Jota could have shot but took a touch away from goal, clearing some space before slipping it back for the trailing man which was, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. The legendary goalscorer showed no hesitation and buried the ball with a first-time finish.
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Less than five minutes later and Portugal were at it again. This time Bruno Fernandes had the ball wide on the left and looked pinned to the touchline, but a beautifully deft reverse pass into the path of Nuno Mendes freed the left-back as he ran into the box.
Mendes found Diogo Jota who again took a questionable touch but recovered to fire at goal. Kobel saved but was once more not assertive enough with his save and the ball bounced out to guess who, Cristiano Ronaldo.
His 117th goal for Portugal, extending his own record as the greatest goalscorer in men’s international football history. It was not really a moment of magic but exemplified his commitment to always being in the right place at the right time. He should have had a hat-trick before half-time as he wasted a great cross with a feeble finish.
The second-half was actually a series of frustrations as Ronaldo’s attempts to bag yet another hat-trick were thwarted, mostly by officials as he had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be (correctly) ruled out for offside.
Things got even more tantalising for him as Portugal were awarded a penalty. Ronaldo grabbed the ball, only for VAR to rule that the foul had taken place outside the area. Ronaldo marched over, wallopped the free-kick at goal, but saw Kobel pull off a great save to deny him.
Of course, adding to Ronaldo’s frustrations will be the fact that his great nemesis Lionel Messi smashed in five goals for Argentina earlier in the day. So often when the pair were dominating in La Liga for Barcelona and Real Madrid they would somehow match each other’s goalscoring feats every week, and it felt like Ronaldo was desperate to do the same tonight.
International goalscoring is the one area where Ronaldo truly outshines Messi, having scored 117 times compared to the Argentine’s 86, and the Portuguese will be keen to keep it that way especially with what is sure to be the pair’s last World Cup coming up in November.
Lionel Messi (5) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2) have scored more international goals combined this international break than:
World Cup mode already activated. 😀
— Squawka (@Squawka) June 5, 2022
But while Ronaldo didn’t manage to get a hat-trick, he can be pleased at the 4-0 win (Joao Cancelo added a fourth late on) leading Portugal to the top of Group 2 in the Nations League. Portugal join Czech Republic on 4 points but their demolition of Switzerland gives them the edge on goal difference ahead of the two sides meeting in Prague on Thursday.