Euro 2024 qualifiers: Ronaldo's late goal helps Portugal maintain perfect record

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo exults after netting the winner. Photo: AFP/Halldor Kolbeins

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning late goal as Portugal beat Iceland 1-0 on Tuesday to extend their perfect record in Euro 2024 qualifying Group J on a historic night for the forward who became the first player to make 200 international appearances.

Ronaldo already held the record for most international appearances when he surpassed Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa’s, who held the record of 196 matches, during Portugal's Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein in March.

Portugal struggled to break the deadlock against Iceland but stepped up the pressure after Willum Thor Willumsson was sent off for a second yellow card after a rough tackle on substitute Goncalo Inacio in the 81st minute.

Ronaldo had to wait two minutes to celebrate the winner as the referee first ruled out his close-range strike in the 89th minute for offside, but the goal was given after the VAR replay showed he was fractionally onside. 

It was Ronaldo's 123rd goal for Portugal, extending his record as the all-time leading international goalscorer.

The result left Portugal top with 12 points, two ahead of second-placed Slovakia, who won 1-0 away to Liechtenstein earlier on Tuesday.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku is greeted by coach Domenico Tedesco. Photo: Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Stand-in captain Romelu Lukaku scored twice in three minutes and Johan Bakayoko netted his first international goal as Belgium ended a tumultuous few days with a 3-0 victory over Estonia in their Group F qualifier.

The visitors had been rocked by a row between new coach Domenico Tedesco and veteran goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the build-up to the game, and made a slow start before Lukaku pounced with two close-range finishes towards the end of the first half.

Austria lead the pool with 10 points from four games, with Belgium in second place on seven points from three matches. Estonia have a single point from their three fixtures.

Belgium took the lead when Lukaku prodded in Aster Vranckx’s right-wing cross from six yards, and three minutes later made it 2-0 via a low cross from the left. Bakayoko added a late third with a fine left-footed finish.

The victory follows a chaotic build-up to the fixture after a war of words between Tedesco and Courtois that has yet to be resolved and has left the latter’s international future in doubt.

The results: Group A: Norway bt Cyprus 3-1; Scotland bt Georgia 2-0.

Group E: Faroe Islands lost to Albania 1-3; Moldova bt Poland 3-2.

Group F: Austria bt Sweden 2-0; Estonia lost to Belgium 0-3.

Group G: Bulgaria drew with Serbia 1-1; Hungary bt Lithuania 2-0.

Group J: Bosnia and Herzegovina lost to Luxembourg 0-2; Iceland lost to Portugal 0-1; Liechtenstein lost to Slovakia 0-1.

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