Cristiano Ronaldo’s 71st goal for Portugal took him into the all-time top 10 in international history.
The Portuguese star netted the opener in their 3-2 friendly defeat against Sweden on Tuesday on his 138th appearance, taking him to joint-ninth in the standings, level with Majed Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Kiatisuk Senamuang of Thailand and Miroslav Klose of Germany.
He still has some way to go to catch all-time leader Ali Daei, however, who netted 109 times for Iran in 149 caps.
The Real Madrid star has 36 goals for club and country since the start of this domestic season, scoring nine in his last four European Qualifiers.
Playing in his hometown of Funchal on the Madeira Islands on Tuesday, the fans chanted Ronaldo’s name several times, including when he was substituted in the 58th minute.
And the Madeira airport outside the city will be renamed after Ronaldo in a ceremony attended by the 32-year-old and his relatives on Wednesday.
It was an evening devoted almost entirely to Cristiano Ronaldo and the major role he played in delivering the European Championship to Portugal.
A match against Sweden in his home city of Funchal, described by the Portuguese FA president Fernando Gomes as a ‘gift’ to their captain and talisman, where he paraded the trophy won in Paris last July.
So it was fitting that the local hero should get on the scoresheet – even if Sweden did fight back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and play the role of party-poopers.
It was Ronaldo’s 71st goal for his country, a total that puts him tantalisingly within range of becoming the all-time leading goalscorer for a European nation.
With his 18th-minute goal, the Real Madrid superstar drew level with Germany’s Miroslav Klose – not to mention Majed Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Kiatisuk Senamuang of Thailand – on 71 international goals.
Next on Ronaldo’s hitlist – potentially when Portugal play Latvia in their next World Cup qualifier in June, a prologue to their participation in the FIFA Confederations Cup – is the 75 goals of Hungarian great Sandor Kocsis.
Intriguingly, 32-year-old Ronaldo is also now within six goals of the 77 Pele scored for Brazil during his famous career.
However, to become the highest scorer ever for a European nation, Ronaldo needs another 14 goals to eclipse the Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas, who scored 84.
But even if Ronaldo plays until he is 40, he may struggle to overtake the world’s all-time leading international goalscorer – Ali Daei of Iran and his 109.
Ronaldo’s extraordinary run of scoring for Portugal began when he netted against Greece in the opening match of the 2004 European Championship, though the occasion was far from auspicious as they lost 2-1.
Interestingly though, Ronaldo has yet to hit the target against some of Europe’s leading nations, including England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy.
He scored three goals at last summer’s finals as Portugal lifted the trophy for the first time in their history.
And Ronaldo has already scored nine goals in Portugal’s qualification campaign for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
All-time international goalscorers
Rank Player Country Goals
1 Ali Daei Iran 109
2 Ferenc Puskas Hungary 84
3 Kunishige Kamamoto Japan 80
4 Hussein Saeed Iraq 78
5 Pele Brazil 77
6 Godfrey Chitalu Zambia 76
7 Sandor Kocsis Hungary 75
7 Bashar Abdullah Kuwait 75
9 Majed Abdullah Saudi Arabia 71
9 Kiatisuk Senamuang Thailand 71
9 Miroslav Klose Germany 71
9 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 71
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