Portugal

Cristiano the extraordinary centurion

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 100th Portugal goal
© imago images
  • Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th & 101st goals for Portugal against Sweden
  • He became the second man to join the international century club
  • We analyse his goals and standing in international football

Cristiano Ronaldo’s first international goal was a 93rd-minute header from a cross by Luis Figo, a moment that symbolically represented a passing of the torch. He was just 19 at the time and the goal was ultimately for nothing, as Portugal lost 2-1 in their opening game at UEFA EURO 2004 against a Greece side that would go on to lift the trophy.

Sixteen years later, Portugal’s No7 reached the next career landmark against Sweden, taking his tally to 100 and then 101 international goals. He is the only currently active male player to be in the century club and IR Iran’s Ali Daei, with 109, is the only other man in history to have scored more.

With the next continental showdown around the corner and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ coming up in two years, he will have plenty of opportunities to break the record. For now, we shine the spotlight on his 101 goals and his standing in international football.

The most influential Portuguese player

Portugal enjoyed their best placing at a World Cup in Eusebio’s day, finishing third at England 1966. Their golden generation of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Joao Pinto won two FIFA World Youth Championships (in 1989 and 1991), and put A Seleção das Quinas among Europe’s best teams. Nevertheless, there is no question that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most important player in Portuguese football history:

  • Portugal have won the only two titles in their trophy cabinet with him as captain: EURO 2016 and the UEFA Nations League 2019.
  • Portugal have only competed at seven World Cups, including four in Ronaldo’s era:Germany 2006 (fourth place), South Africa 2010 (Round of 16), Brazil 2014 (group stage) and Russia 2018 (Round of 16).
  • He is the only Portuguese to have scored at four World Cups, and the only European player to find the net at four EUROs.
  • Ronaldo has been named FIFA World Player of the Year five times.
UEFA Euro 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy 
© Getty Images

Did you know?

  • Decisive goals: Of the 101 Portugal goals he has scored, only 17 came in friendlies.
  • Complete player: 55 of his goals have been with his right foot, 22 with his left and 24 with his head.
  • From open play and set-pieces: Ronaldo has scored ten direct free-kicks, 11 penalties and the rest from open play.
  • Deadly in the closing stages: 30 of his 101 goals have arrived in the final 15 minutes or in added time.
  • Nine goals in FIFA competitions: Ronaldo has found the target seven times at World Cups and twice at the FIFA Confederations Cup™.
  • Qualifying specialist: Ronaldo has participated in three World Cup qualifying campaigns and left his mark on each of them: he scored seven on the road to Germany 2006, eight in the build-up to Brazil 2014 and 15 en route to Russia 2018. He has also hit the net 31 times in the EURO preliminaries.
  • Hat-tricks and more: In his 100 appearances for Portugal, Ronaldo has registered seven hat-tricks (including two against his favourite opponents Lithuania), and also scored four goals in one game against Andorra.
  • More years, more goals: Like a fine wine, Ronaldo has got better with age when it comes to scoring. The 2019 calendar year was his best yet with 14.

Star turns

In his 17-year international career Ronaldo has enjoyed numerous memorable moments, including these three:

Four goals to qualify for Brazil

European play-offs: Portugal vs Sweden (4-2 on aggregate), 15 and 19 November 2013

Portugal finished behind Russia in their Brazil 2014 qualifying group, forcing them to go up against a Sweden side spearheaded by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the play-offs. Ronaldo stole the show by scoring all four of his team’s goal across the two games, with his header in the first leg in Lisbon giving Portugal the advantage. Ibrahimovic struck a brace in the return fixture but Ronaldo’s hat-trick dashed Sweden’s hopes, racing clear of the defence on each occasion before finishing with surgical precision. Portugal booked their ticket to Brazil, where they were ultimately unable to make it beyond the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores his team's second goal
© Getty Images

Ronaldo to the rescue at continental showdown

EURO 2016, group stage: Hungary 3-3 Portugal, 22 June 2016

Portugal earned their first piece of silverware at the European Championship via some tough battles and moments of magic, such as Ronaldo’s brace against Hungary to progress to the last 16.

The Iberians went into their final group game on the back of two draws that had seemingly left them heading for home. To make matters worse, Hungary went 2-1 up at the start of the second half – before Ronaldo stepped up. He equalised with a spectacular back-heel, and while Hungary took the lead again, Ronaldo headed his side level at 3-3 to keep Portugal’s hopes alive.

He only played 30 minutes of the final due to injury, but before then he was once again decisive in the semi-finals, heading in the opener in a 2-0 victory over Wales.

Best World Cup performance… so far

Russia 2018, group stage: Portugal 3-3 Spain, 15 June 2018

The Iberian derby was one of the best matches at the last World Cup, and Ronaldo stole the show with a hat-trick as he helped his side come from behind to start their Russia 2018 campaign with a draw that felt more like a win.

Ronaldo’s 14th World Cup outing was his finest yet, both in terms of his goals and the way he carried the team. First he won and scored a penalty, then he forced a mistake from David de Gea to register his second and, in the 88th minute - when Spain already looked to have secured victory – he smashed a direct free-kick into the top corner.

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