World Cup qualifying Group B, Estadio da Luz – Portugal 3 (Silva 32, Ronaldo 36, 65) Hungary 0
Cristiano Ronaldo struck a double as Portugal kept their World Cup qualification hopes on course with a 3-0 victory over Hungary in a one-sided Group B clash in Lisbon.
The Real Madrid forward rifled in his first as part of a four-minute goal blitz in the first period after Andre Silva had broken the visitors’ resistance with a neat opener just past the half hour.
Ronaldo then crashed home a trademark free kick in the second half to seal the win and take his overall tally for his country to 70.
The European champions knew they could not afford any slip after leaders Switzerland had maintained their 100 per cent record with a 1-0 success over Latvia earlier in the evening – and they responded after a slow start to comfortably consolidate second spot in the pool.
Fernando Santos’ men are now five points clear of third-placed Hungary and just three behind the Swiss, with only the side finishing at the summit guaranteed a place at next year’s finals in Russia.
Portugal have found a goal poacher. A criticism of Portugal’s so-called ‘golden generation’ was the lack of an out-and-out goalscorer. This side have Ronaldo but he has often had to carry the burden on his own. Now, they have 21-year-old Andre Silva. He has netted five goals in six appearances for his country and is developing a partnership with Ronaldo that is helping A Selecao to put opponents to the sword. Switzerland still have to come to Portugal in the group and you wouldn’t bet against Ronaldo and Co finishing top of the pile and avoiding a play-off scenario.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – Still his country’s main man. Rifled in a thumping second before lashing home a thunderous free kick. Barely got out of second gear but still a cut above the rest.