Cristiano Ronaldo became international football’s record goalscorer with a last-gasp double to snatch Portugal an unlikely victory from the Republic of Ireland’s grasp while a 10-man France were held to a 1-1 draw by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The 36-year-old celebrated his return to Manchester United in style by almost single-handedly rescuing the Portuguese with headers in the 89th minute and the sixth minute of stoppage time to make it 2-1 just as it looked as though Ireland had opened their Group A account with a famous win.
Ronaldo had earlier seen his first-half penalty saved by 19-year-old keeper Gavin Bazunu before John Egan headed the visitors into the lead seconds before the break.
But just as Stephen Kenny dared to believe a first competitive win of his reign at the 10th attempt was coming his way, Ronaldo eclipsed the 109-goal record he shared with Iran’s Ali Daei and then took his tally to 111 to turn the game on its head.
The final score was desperately harsh on Ireland, who have now played three qualifiers and still do not have a point to their name despite their most impressive performance yet under Kenny.
Bazunu kept out Ronaldo’s 89th-minute free kick to edge the Republic ever closer to victory, but there was nothing he could do to keep out his header seconds later as he climbed to meet substitute Goncalo Guedes’ cross.
There was to be a further twist, however, and inevitably it was Ronaldo who was on hand to plant home a second header and snatch victory in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
France, meanwhile, were held to a draw at home by the Bosnians. Edin Dzeko gave the visitors a 36th-minute lead, but Antoine Griezmann hit back just four minutes later. The game, however, turned into a cagey affair after Jule Kounde’s red card in the 51st minutes as the sides ended up sharing the spoils.
In Copenhagen, Denmark struck early to finish off Scotland in a 2-0 win in their World Cup qualifier.
You may also like