Ronaldo's brace powers Portugal to win, France pip Germany
When Cristiano Ronaldo stepped onto the pitch in Portugal's Euro 2020 opener against Hungary on Tuesday, history had already been made — the 36-year-old became the first player to appear at five editions of the European Championship.
SEVILLE: When Cristiano Ronaldo stepped onto the pitch in Portugal's Euro 2020 opener against Hungary on Tuesday, history had already been made — the 36-year-old became the first player to appear at five editions of the European Championship. But it was not the only record he set that day — the double he hit in Portugal's 3-0 win made him the all-time top-scorer in competition history, breaking away from French legend Michel Platini to stand alone at the top with 11 Euro goals.
"It was essential to start on the right note in order to gain confidence," said Ronaldo. "Now, we have to continue and win the next game."
"It was a difficult game, against an opponent who defended very well during 90 minutes, but we scored three goals, and I am very grateful to the team for helping me score two goals," he added. Now the Juventus striker has his sight set on another record — the all-time international record currently held by former Iranian forward Ali Daei with 109 goals. Ronaldo is only three goals behind, Xinhua reports.
The match with Hungary looked to be heading for a draw as the Portuguese struggled to break down a dogged Hungarian defence but Rafael Guerreiro finally opened the scoring in the 84th minute with a deflected strike. Ronaldo doubled the lead through a penalty two minutes later, and made it 3-0 in injury time after a brilliant one-two with Rafa Silva.
The Puskas Arena, with a capacity of almost 68,000 fans, is the only Euro 2020 venue that has no limit on fans' attendance.
"We didn't deserve a 3-0 defeat. With a bit of luck it could have been a point each, but it was an experience of a lifetime," said Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
The other Group F match saw a clash between the two most recent world champions, with the 2018 World Cup winners France securing a 1-0 victory over 2014 champions Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich. The host made a bright start on home soil as Mats Hummels headed over the target from a central position in just three minutes. But France's defence was solid and Les Bleus looked dangerous on fast breaks as the match progressed.
With 20 minutes gone, Didier Deschamps's men broke the deadlock after Hummels cleared Lucas Hernandez's cross into his own net. Germany pressed frenetically but couldn't find a gap in France's well-positioned defence. Meanwhile, the world champions had goals from Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema chalked off for off-sides in the closing stages.
With the results, Portugal top Group F with three points followed by France, who are equal on points but sit second on goal difference. (IANS)