Ronaldo scores four but pays tribute to team

VILNIUS • Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo refused to claim all the credit after he took his international tally to 93 goals, when he scored four times to give the European champions a 5-1 win away to Lithuania in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Tuesday.

Playing in his 161st international, the forward notched his eighth hat-trick for his country and the 54th of his remarkable career.

Unheralded midfielder William Carvalho completed the rout in stoppage time as Portugal stayed second in Group B with eight points, five behind leaders Ukraine with one game in hand.

Serbia are a further point behind in third after a 3-1 win in Luxembourg, who are fourth with four points.

"I scored one goal against Serbia and four today and what I want most is to continue like this," said Ronaldo, who converted an early penalty and then added three second-half goals.

"I'm going through a good phase, but the team has been playing well too. I'm enjoying this moment not only because of my goals, but also because of the team's performances in recent years. I just have to keep helping the team."

He is now just 16 goals behind the all-time men's international record of 109 set by Iran's Ali Daei.

Portugal coach Fernando Santos was thrilled with his star's contribution, hailing the 34-year-old Ronaldo as "the best player in the world".

"This is clear and unmistakable proof," he said. "There is no stadium in the world where Ronaldo is not applauded. He is the best in the world.

"I think it's strange when he doesn't score. They say it is ending... Nothing is ending. You have to be careful because it never ends."

Santos added of his team: "I'm convinced that these players are capable of finishing top of this group."

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice to keep Serbia's hopes alive.

He headed them in front after 36 minutes and Nemanja Radonjic curled in the second 10 minutes after the restart.

Substitute David Turpel pulled one back for Luxembourg but Mitrovic fired in the third with 12 minutes left to clinch all three points.

REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2019, with the headline 'Ronaldo scores four but pays tribute to team'. Print Edition | Subscribe