Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was tireless in his team’s 2-0 win against giant-killers North Macedonia on Tuesday, creating one of Bruno Fernandes’ two goals in a 2-0 win that gave them a spot at this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar. The 37-year-old forward is set to join a select group of players who have made it to five World Cup tournaments in their careers – Germany’s Lothar Matthaus, Mexico’s Rafa Marquez and Antonio Carbajal and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon.
Lionel Messi is also preparing to play in his fifth World Cup finals as Argentina have also qualified for Qatar. Ronaldo has fond memories of Porto’s Dragao Stadium and Tuesday’s World Cup playoff win joins the list.
It was there that he scored his first ever goal for Portugal in the 2004 European Championship opening game against Greece. Five years later Ronaldo netted the first goal honoured by the FIFA Puskas Award given to the season’s best effort – a long-range strike for Manchester United against Porto in the Champions League that secured a place in the semi-finals.
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More recently, in the 2019 UEFA Nations League semi-final against Switzerland, Ronaldo shone again at the Dragao by scoring a hat-trick to lead Portugal to the final against the Netherlands, which they won to secure him another trophy.
“Goal achieved, we’re at the Qatar World Cup,” Ronaldo said on Instagram. “We’re in our rightful place! Thank you to all the Portuguese people for the tireless support! Let’s go Portugal!”
Ronaldo has played 17 World Cup matches during his career, having scored seven goals for his country at the world’s top international tournament.
He scored four of those goals in the 2018 competition, netting a hat-trick against Spain in the group stage. In total, Portugal have won six, lost five and drawn six times at the World Cup with Ronaldo in the team.
(With Reuters inputs)