Cristiano Ronaldo speaks out after breaking all-time international scoring record in thrilling Portugal win over Republic of Ireland
A beaming Cristiano Ronaldo said he was ‘very happy’ for himself and for Portugal after netting a stunning late double in the side’s 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland to become the top goalscorer in the history of men’s international football.
Ronaldo endured a nightmare start to Wednesday’s thrilling World Cup qualifier as he had an early penalty saved by teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu before John Egan nodded the visitors in front on the stroke of half-time.
However, Ronaldo, so often the man for the big occasion, left it late with a pair of towering headers in the 89th and 96th minutes to seal all three points for Portugal and send the Estadio Algarve crowd into raptures, capping off a memorable week in the wake of his return to Manchester United.
The veteran attacker had been level with Ali Daei’s tally of 109 goals prior to kick-off and his sensational brace put him out in front of the Iranian with 111 goals from 180 games for his country.
‘I’m so happy, very happy, and not only because I beat the record but for the special moments that we had,’ he told Sky Sports after Portugal’s dramatic win.
‘Two goals at the end of the game, so tough, but I have to appreciate what the team did tonight. We believed until the end.
‘For the supporters, I’m so glad.’
Ronaldo said he was always confident Portugal could come away from the Group A encounter with maximum points, even after his missed spot-kick.
‘It’s part of the game, it’s part of the business,’ the Portuguese said when asked about his 11th-minute penalty which was saved by Bazunu.
‘Sometimes you score, sometimes you make mistakes and that’s just part of the business.
‘But I still believed until the end of the game so I’m so glad to score and to win the game.’
Ronaldo made sure to applaud Iran legend Daei for ‘setting the standards’ and ‘holding the record for so long’ before him in a lengthy Instagram post uploaded shortly after Portugal’s win.
‘I can’t even start to express myself in words! I’m thrilled with an overwhelming sensation! Let’s go, Portugal! Let’s go!’ Ronaldo said.
‘From all the records that I have broken during my career – and fortunately there have been a few – this one is very special for me and it’s certainly on the shelf of the achievements that make me truly proud.
‘First of all, because every time I represent my country is a special moment, for knowing that I’m defending Portugal and showing to the world what Portuguese people are made of.
‘Secondly, because national teams competitions have always had a very strong impact in me as I was growing up, watching my idols playing for their flags every other summer in Euros and in World Cups.
‘But finally and above all, because scoring 111 goals for Portugal means 111 moments like the ones we experienced today in Algarve, moments of worldwide union and happiness for millions and millions of Portuguese citizens all around the globe. For them, every sacrifice is worth it.
‘Another reason for me to appreciate this achievement as much as I do right now, is because Ali Daei has set the standards in such a high level, that at some point even I started thinking that I might never catch him. Congratulations to the “Shariar” for holding the record for so long and thanks for always showing so much respect for me every time I scored and as I became closer and closer to his outstanding number.
‘Thank you Portugal. Thanks to all my teammates and opponents for making this journey so unforgettable. Let’s keep meeting inside the pitch in the years to come! I’m not closing the count just yet…’
Portugal’s win put them three points clear of nearest rivals Serbia, who have a game in hand and next face Luxembourg.
Ireland, meanwhile, are still yet to pick up a point after three successive defeats in the group and Stephen Kenny’s men will be desperate for a morale-boosting victory over bottom-placed Azerbaijan this weekend.
MORE : ‘He’s going to have a huge impact’ – Harry Maguire hails Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘amazing’ return to Manchester United
MORE : Manchester United believe Cristiano Ronaldo can help secure £68m Erling Haaland transfer next summer