Tuesday 6 December 2016

Mixed bag for Ronaldo as he equals Keane tally

Jamie Holland

Published 14/11/2016 | 02:30

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo converted one penalty, missed another and also scored from open play as Portugal beat Latvia 4-1 in their World Cup qualifier on yesterday.

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On a typically dramatic night for the Portugal captain, Ronaldo fired the European champions ahead from his first spot kick of the evening in the first half, but missed a chance to double their lead when his second effort struck the post.

It looked a costly miss when Arturs Zjuzins equalised for Latvia in the 68th minute but William Carvalho headed Portugal back in front two minutes later, Ronaldo volleyed the third and Bruno Alves completed the win.

Portugal stayed second in Group B with nine points from four games, three behind leaders Switzerland.

Portugal survived an early scare when a corner landed at the feet of Igors Tarasovs but he failed to connect cleanly and Rui Patricio saved.

After being restricted to long-range shots, Portugal broke the deadlock when Nani was tripped by Gints Freimanis and Ronaldo fired low to Andris Vanins' right in the 28th minute. Portugal won another penalty when Glebs Kluskins tripped Andre Gomes in the 58th minute but this time Ronaldo, who also missed a penalty in the Euro 2016 match against Austria, saw his shot hit the inside of the post and roll across the goal.

Ten minutes later, Latvia, who had barely got out of their own half, equalised when substitute Zjuzins scored with his second attempt from the edge of the area.

But midfielder Carvalho came to the rescue two minutes later when he headed his first international goal from Ricardo Quaresma's cross.

Another Quaresma cross led to the third as it found Ronaldo at the far post and Portugal's all-time leading scorer volleyed home his 68th international goal, the same international tally as Robbie Keane.

Ronaldo then missed an easy chance for his hat-trick from Renato Sanches' pass and also headed against the crossbar before Alves headed in Raphael Guerreiro's chipped cross at the far post.

Meanwhile, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Belgium destroyed Estonia 8-1 to seize top spot outright in World Cup Group H qualifying yesterday.

Coach Roberto Martinez's men also struck through Thomas Meunier, Eden Hazard, Yannick Carrasco and an own goal from Ragnar Klavan, with the first three coming inside the opening 25 minutes.

Estonia replied just before the half-hour through Henri Anier but it was a lonely highlight for the Baltic nation who are second from bottom with three points.

Memphis Depay spared the blushes of the Netherlands with two second half goals as they won 3-1 in Luxembourg in an unexpectedly tricky Group A qualifier.

Depay, who came on just before the hour mark with the match deadlocked at 1-1, rose to head home an inch-perfect cross from Manchester United club-mate Daley Blind from point blank range in the 58th minute. And he struck again on 83 minutes, bending a free kick over the wall and into the net.

The Dutch had gone ahead in the 36th minute through Arjen Robben, playing his first international in a year.

Injury had kept Robben out of the team since last November but he suffered another muscle strain before half-time and had to be replaced.

The home team equalised just before half-time when Maxime Chanot converted a penalty.

Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate wants to be told within the next two weeks whether he is to be appointed England's next manager, with tomorrow's match against Spain providing the chance to make himself a dead-cert to be the 15th permanent holder of the post.

The 46-year-old said after Friday's emphatic 3-0 win over Scotland: ''Everybody is going to want to know by the end of November, middle of December, where everything's heading so that we can decide who is responsible for which parts of the organisation's work."

Irish Independent

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