Cristiano Ronaldo broke the all-time international goalscoring record with his 110th Portugal goal and then scored an injury-time winner to salvage his country a dramatic 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory over the Republic of Ireland in Faro on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo, whose return to Manchester United from Juventus was confirmed on Tuesday, had missed a penalty in the 15th minute before John Egan gave Ireland a half-time lead.
But Ronaldo equalised in the 89th minute with a header, before out jumping the Irish defence again in the sixth minute of added time.
He passes Ali Daei, who scored 109 international goals, after equalling the Iranian great’s record tally during Euro 2020.
“I’m so happy, not just because I beat the record, but for the special moment that we had,” Ronaldo told Sky Sports.
“I have to appreciate what the team did, we believed until the end. I’m so glad.”
Portugal sit top of Group A with 10 points from four matches, although Serbia are only three points behind with a game in hand.
The group winners qualify automatically for the finals in Qatar, with the runners-up heading into the playoffs.
Ronaldo was gifted the perfect opportunity to take the record on his own early on after Jeff Hendrick was adjudged to have tripped Bruno Fernandes.
The referee was asked by VAR to have a second look on the pitchside monitor, but he stuck with his original decision after a lengthy delay.
But the crowd in the Algarve were stunned, as Ronaldo’s well-struck penalty was saved by diving Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, a teenager who is on loan at English third-tier side Portsmouth from Manchester City.
Ronaldo was booked for his celebration and will miss Portugal’s next qualifier against Azerbaijan next week through suspension, although it is unlikely he will be overly bothered by that.A