Ronaldo scores 54th career hat-trick
England and Portugal both scored five goals while France netted three as they overcame lowly-ranked Kosovo, Andorra and Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.
Captain Ronaldo, making his 160th international appearance, scored four as Portugal won 5-1 in Vilnius and strengthened their position in Group B after a sluggish start, raising the debate whether he is the Greatest Of All Times (GOAT).
For Ronaldo, it was a second hat-trick in three internationals and his 54th in all competitions.
The victory over Lithuania, 130th in the world rankings, kept Portugal five points behind Ukraine at the top of Group B.
Portugal, who opened the group with home draws against Ukraine and Serbia, started their recovery with a victory in Belgrade on Saturday. They have a game in hand on all the other teams in the group.
“We were better, we are better, and we won because of it,” said Fernando Santos, the Portugal coach. “We kept the pace after the win at Serbia, otherwise this triumph would make no sense, and we are closer.”
Ronaldo’s first goal was a penalty. The second, with the scores level after an hour, was a scuffed low shot from outside the penalty area which took a couple of stranges bounces off the artificial turf before it was parried into the air by the diving Ernestas Setkus.
The dropping ball hit the back of the goalie’s head before rolling in. The third was a clinical volley from close range. The fourth was a low shot into the corner.
Vytautas Andriuskevicius scored the hosts’ only goal before William Carvalho added a fifth for the reigning champions at the end.
Serbia beat Luxembourg 3-1, as Aleksandar Mitrovic netted twice, to solidify their grasp on third place. They are a point behind Portugal.
In Southampton, Gareth Southgate’s England side trailed early on to Kosovo, ranked 120th in the world, when Valon Berisha scored after 34 seconds.
England replied with a first-half goal binge that ended with Jadon Sancho scoring twice to make it 5-1 at the break.
The visitors claimed two back in the second half, including a second for Lazio midfielder Berisha, but the 5-3 victory put England three points clear in Group A, ahead of the second-placed Czech Republic, who beat Montenegro 3-0. -AFP