Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championship football as Portugal beat Armenia 1-0 in Group I.
The goal was Ronaldo’s 23rd in European qualifiers and finals, surpassing Denmark’s Jon Dahl Tomasson’s total with a close-range finish in the 71st minute. Portugal are now second in Group I, a point behind Denmark, who won 3-1 in Serbia with two goals from the former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner.
The game was a tight one as Portugal struggled to make an impact. Apart from scoring the only goal, Ronaldo did not have a good game as the Real Madrid forward fired three free-kicks into the Armenia wall.
Armenia had a few chances to score when Borussia Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan forced Rui Patricio into a great save in the 14th minute and Midfielder Kamo Hovhannisyan also tested the Portugal goalkeeper in the opening half-hour.
The game marked the return of two former Chelsea players into the Portuguese line-up. Full-back Jose Bosingwa, 32, made his Portugal return after a four-year absence, while 36-year-old Ricardo Carvalho also started the game.
In the group’s other game, Denmark came from a goal down to defeat Serbia 3-1.
After Ronaldo spoke about the record which he knew would come sooner or later and the fact that it happened in front of his own fans made him happier.
He said – “The record? It’s just another one. I knew it would come sooner or later. I still have a lot of games to play. I’m happy, mainly because I broke the record in front of our fans. It’s a special moment.”
29-year old Ronaldo has now scored 25 goals in all competitions for club and country this season and his form impressive form drew the praise of Portugal manager Fernando Santos.
“What is the significance of the record of Cristiano Ronaldo? It has a great significance for him, for the team, for the country, and of course for me as the manager.” said Santos.
The Portugal boss also had words of praise for Quaresma who came on as a substitute and created the chance for the only goal of the match. Quaresma, who came on as a replacement for Danny, brought a save out of Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovski, allowing Nani to force the rebound into the path of Ronaldo, who did the rest.
“Quaresma a secret weapon? No, he’s no secret weapon,” Santos said.
“At that time we felt that we needed a man to create and pass, so we decided to gamble on Quaresma and the truth is that he did very well.
“I was expecting it not to be easy. I had seen the games of this team [Armenia] against Serbia and Denmark. They defend a lot and then have two or three very quick players up front.
“I think we had a very good initial 15 minutes and if we had scored then the game would have become simpler.
“We tried to play in the opponents’ area and try and win the rebounds. Often these games are won in rebounds. I think the victory is entirely fair.”