FARO, Portugal (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in men’s international football when he headed two last-gasp goals to give Portugal a 2-1 comeback victory over Ireland in Group A of World Cup Qualifying on Wednesday.
The Manchester United forward saw Gavin Bazunu, a Manchester City loanee, save a first-half penalty after Jeff Hendrick was deemed to have fouled Bruno Fernandes.
Ronaldo appeared to lash out at Dara O’Shea in the build-up to the spot kick as a VAR review was taking place but he was not punished by the referee and he made Ireland pay.
“I’m so happy, not only for the record but for the special moments with two goals at the end,” Ronaldo said.
“It was so tough, but we have to appreciate what the team did, they and the fans believed until the end of the game.”
John Egan headed Ireland into a shock lead from a corner on the stroke of half-time after Diogo Jota had hit the post for the hosts.
After the break Portugal struggled to break down a resolute Ireland backline and it appeared that it was going to be a frustrating night for Ronaldo and his side after Bazunu produced a fine save from a free kick late on.
However, there was a late twist in the tale when the 36-year-old levelled the scores in the 89th minute to surpass Iranian Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals with a towering header.
He then produced a carbon copy in the sixth minute of stoppage time to score goal number 111 and secure all three points for the hosts.
The result means manager Stephen Kenny remains without a competitive win with Ireland, who sit joint bottom of Group A with Azerbaijan, whom they face on Saturday, with no points from three games.
Portugal, who travel to Azerbaijan next Tuesday, are top on 10 points after four games, three ahead of Serbia who have played a game fewer.
(Reporting by Joseph Walker; editing by Clare Fallon)