Another Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick takes Portugal close to Euro 2020 qualification - in pictures
Portuguese star scores ninth international treble during 6-0 rout of Lithuania
Cristiano Ronaldo made a big statement as he scored his ninth international hat-trick to take Portugal closer to qualification for the 2020 European Championship following a 6-0 rout of Lithuania.
It was a troubling week for Ronaldo after he was substituted twice by Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri who suggested the striker was struggling with knee injury.
According to reports, Ronaldo even left the stadium before the final whistle after being taken off by Sarri during Juventus' win over AC Milan. Portugal coach Fernando Santos said there should be no doubts over his fitness now.
"I knew he [Ronaldo] was able to play," Santos told TV channel RTP.
"His match put an end to the doubts about his physical condition, for those who had doubts. I personally had none, and I said that."
Ronaldo now has 98 international goals next to his name and will aim for a century against Luxembourg on Sunday, which will make him just the second player ever to do so.
The 34-year-old started off with a seventh-minute penalty after he was brought down, before adding to his tally with a curling effort into the top corner. Benfica midfielder Pizzi also found the back of the net seven minutes into the second half.
Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva found their names on the scoresheet before and Ronaldo completed the 55th hat-trick of his career. Ronaldo could have had another when he was left completely unmarked just 10 yards from goal but his effort shot over the crossbar.
The Juventus forward has netted 13 goals in seven appearances for Portugal. His other hat-tricks include 44 for Real Madrid, one for Juventus and another for Manchester United.
However, Portugal were made to wait for qualification as Serbia secured a 3-2 win over Luxembourg in their group B game.
Portugal are second behind Ukraine, who have already qualified, and one point clear of Serbia. They can secure qualification if they defeat Luxembourg on Sunday.
Published: November 15, 2019 10:03 AM