Cristiano Ronaldo heading for fifth World Cup after Portugal victory

Giant killers North Macedonia are beaten 2-0 in playoff for Qatar

Potugal's Cristiano Ronaldo after the victory over North Macedonia in Porto. Getty
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Cristiano Ronaldo will get to play in his fifth World Cup in Qatar after Portugal defeated North Macedonia 2-0 in the European qualifying playoffs on Tuesday.

This time there was no stunning late winner for North Macedonia to eliminate a traditional powerhouse like against European champions Italy last Thursday in Palermo.

Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring for the hosts after a pass by Ronaldo in the first half and added another goal in the second to secure Portugal's place in the World Cup for the sixth straight time.

After escaping the playoffs, Portugal will be a seeded team in Friday’s draw for the showcase event in November.

 Bruno Fernandes celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring. EPA

The 37-year-old Ronaldo will be playing in his 10th straight major tournament in a streak that started at Euro 2004. He has played in four World Cups and five Euros, winning the European title in 2016.

The highest scorer in men’s international soccer with 115 goals, Ronaldo is the only player to have scored at least once in the finals of nine top tournaments in a row.

Ronaldo missed Portugal’s first good chance in a breakaway the 14th minute, then passed to his Manchester United teammate for the opening goal after a blunder by the North Macedonia defence in the 32nd. Fernandes added to the lead from close range after a pass from Diogo Jota just past the hour

North Macedonia failed to get past the group stage at last year's Euros, losing all three matches. But in addition to the stunning 1-0 win against Italy last week, they had also surprised with a win in Germany last year in their European qualifying group.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 3:30 AM
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