Having become the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football last month, Cristiano Ronaldo looks determined to put as much distance between himself and the chasing pack as possible.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s 5-0 thumping of Luxembourg in World Cup qualifying Group A last night to take his overall tally to 115 international goals, putting him six clear of former Iran striker Ali Daei and 35 ahead of Lionel Messi, who scored his 80th goal for Argentina this weekend.
As he extended one record, Ronaldo claimed another – becoming the first man to score 10 hat-tricks in international football.
“I promised I’d always look for more and more and more!” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram after the game. “It’s in my and our DNA, we’ll never settle, we’ll never give up and we’ll always fight for everything we can achieve! Go Portugal!”
His three-goal haul takes the 36-year-old’s career total for club and country to an incredible 58 hat-tricks, and as has been the case for many of them, it was helped along the way by a penalty.
Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot after just seven minutes – slotting his penalty straight down the middle after Bernardo Silva had been fouled.
The Manchester United forward was lining up for his second penalty of the match just a few minutes later, dusting himself down after he was brought down by Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris.
The referee ordered Ronaldo to retake his second successful penalty for encroachment, but he comfortably extended Portugal’s lead to two on his second attempt.
Manchester United teammate Bruno Fernandes added a third goal just before the 18-minute mark as Portugal threatened to run up a cricket score, but Luxembourg held firm to keep the margin at three until Joao Palhinha headed home from a corner midway through the second half.
The Sporting midfielder celebrated with an ode to Ronaldo’s trademark ‘Siuuuu’ jump – a tribute that Ronaldo would have undoubtedly enjoyed more than Andros Townsend’s homage following his equalizer against United two weeks ago.
With four minutes left of regulation time, the original creator took back the move for himself – celebrating in his customary style following the completion of his hat-trick via a close-range header.
The victory puts Portugal a point behind Group A leader Serbia with a game in hand. The two sides hold an unreachable lead over the rest of the group, and face each other in their final qualifying match.