Portugal have qualified for Euro 2020 with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his 99th international goal in a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Luxembourg.
Bruno Fernandes’ first-half strike (39’) proved to be the decisive goal before Ronaldo scored a toe-poke on the goalline four minutes from time in a game where many expected the 34-year-old to take his international goal total to 100.
Portugal struggled to get into a rhythm on a sticky pitch in Luxembourg, with the hosts almost taking the lead in the 25th minute when Gerson Rodrigues’ header from a corner hit the roof of the net.
It took the visitors until six minutes from half-time to break the deadlock when Fernandes latched onto a spectacular long ball from Bernardo Silva, driving the ball into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
The second half was scrappy with Portugal nervous and Luxembourg proving resilient. Nevertheless Portugal extended their lead through Ronaldo, who finished off the simplest of chances when substitute Diogo Jota's shot was parried into his path on the goalline.
The important victory secured the European champions' place at next year's European Championships.
TALKING POINT – RONALDO ON 99 NOW… BUT NOT 100
Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) scores a goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group B qualification football match between Luxembourg and Portugal
Image credit: Getty Images
The forward was almost seemingly expected to get the two goals that would take his international goal tally to 100.
But it was not to be as Luxembourg defended valiantly and prevented the 34-year-old from having any real impact on the game.
He did get on the scoresheet late on but was not able to dominate the game like most would have expected him to.
MAN OF THE MATCH – BRUNO FERNANDES
Fernandes was one of the few bright sparks in a Portugal side that were underwhelming and too ponderous. The midfielder’s goal was excellently taken and he combined well with Bernardo Silva throughout the match.
Luxembourg: Moris (6), Jans (6), Chanot (6), Gerson (7), Carlson (7), O Thill (7), Martins (6), Skenderovic (6), Turpel (6), Rodrigues (6), Deville (6). Subs: O Thill (6), Sinani (N/A), Joachim (N/A).
Portugal: Patricio (7), Pereira (6), Fonte (6), Dias (6), Guerreiro (6), Fernandes (7), Pereira (6), Pizzi (6), Ronaldo (6), B Silva (7), A Silva (6). Subs: Jota (6), Moutinho (6), Neves (N/A).
THE BIG MOMENTS
6’ - CHANCE! Luxembourg have started brightly as Jan's cross finds DeVille, but the powerful forward's header flies over the bar!
25’ - SO CLOSE! The corner curled in is ducked by Ronaldo before bouncing in the box. Rodrigues rises up and gets his head on it, but it hits the roof of the netting!
39’ - GOAL! Bruno Fernandes gives Portugal what could be a priceless lead! From seemingly out of nothing, he latches onto a pinpoint long ball from Bernardo Silva before driving his shot low into the bottom right corner!
86’ - GOAL! Ronaldo scores and Portugal are 2-0 up! That's 99 international goals for him! He toe-pokes the ball in on the goal-line following Jota's shot which was initially parried by the goalkeeper.