LISBON: Cristiano Ronaldo broke the men’s international appearance record and marked the occasion by scoring twice in Portugal’s 4-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein in Euro 2024 qualifying. The 38-year-old, who was dropped from the Portuguese first-choice XI during the World Cup in Qatar last year, won a 197th cap for his country in Lisbon as a starter.
He netted a 51st-minute penalty after earlier goals from Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, before drilling home a free-kick 12 minutes later. It was Ronaldo’s record-extending 120th goal for his country and made him the first man to score 100 times in competitive internationals. “Records are my motivation,” Ronaldo had told reporters on Wednesday.
“I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud. “But it doesn’t stop there, I still want to be called up very often.” Ronaldo made his international debut in 2003 and became the first man to score in five World Cups last year before Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals.
He is currently playing for Saudi club Al Nassr after an acrimonious end to his second spell at Manchester United. Ronaldo’s appearance off the bench in the defeat by Morocco equalled the previous mark of 196 caps held by Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa.
He left the pitch in tears following Portugal’s shock 1-0 loss against the North Africans. Since leaving Europe, Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 10 matches for Al Nassr. He was replaced as the starting striker by Goncalo Ramos during the World Cup, with the Benfica youngster scoring a hat-trick in a last-16 win over Switzerland.