Ronaldo helps Portugal survive scare against Luxembourg

Portugal fights hard for 3-1 victory in World Cup qualifying

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo shoots the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group A football match between Luxembourg and Portugal at the Josy Barthel Stadium, in Luxembourg City, on March 30, 2021. / AFP / JOHN THYS
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Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal to a hard-fought 3-1 win over Luxembourg on Tuesday, with his first goal of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Juventus forward bagged his 103rd international goal five minutes after the break to stop his side falling foul of a Luxembourg team whose recent performances have defied their status and tiny population.

Ronaldo was controversially denied what looked to be an added-time winner in Saturday's draw against Serbia in Belgrade, but he was not to be denied when he tapped home Joao Cancelo's cross.

Luxembourg beat the Republic of Ireland last time out and another shock result looked possible when Gerson Rodrigues put the hosts in the lead with a glancing header half an hour into the Group A contest at the Stade Josy Barthel.

Diogo Jota put the European champions back on level terms in first-half stoppage time with a close-range header of his own, finding himself unmarked to nod home Pedro Neto's cross.

Ronaldo put Portugal ahead and then Joao Palhinha added a third to put them top, level on seven points with Serbia, who won 2-1 at Azerbaijan earlier on Tuesday thanks to an Aleksandar Mitrovic brace.

Ronaldo, 36, is now six goals short of Iranian Ali Daei's record of 109 international strikes.

"The goal before half-time came at the worst time," Luxembourg coach Luc Holtz said.

"That is the turning point because I would have liked to return to the dressing room at 1-0.

"After, the individual quality made the difference."