Cristiano Ronaldo claimed a scoring world record on Wednesday when his late brace, after missing an early penalty kick, gave him a tally of 111 international goals.
The brace lifted Portugal 2-1 over Ireland in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Faro.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo broke a tie on 109 goals with Iran’s Ali Daei with an 89th-minute header into the bottom right corner for the equaliser.
He then also nodded in the winner six minutes into stoppage time.
Success came after Ronaldo wasted a first big opportunity when his 15th-minute penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Ireland led from John Egan on the stroke of half-time but Ronaldo’s brace then put Portugal top of their qualifying group with 10 points.
They are now three points clear of Serbia who were not playing on the night.
Ireland suffered a third defeat in as many games and are on zero points alongside Azerbaijan who lost 2-1 in Luxembourg.
Only the group winners advance directly to the 2022 finals in Qatar.
“I’m so happy, not just because I beat the record, but for the special moment that we had.
“Two goals at the end of the game is so tough, I have to appreciate what the team did, we believed until the end. I’m so glad,” Ronaldo said.
Looking back at the penalty kick, he added: “It’s part of the game, part of the business. Sometimes you score, sometimes you make a mistake.”
Ronaldo, whose transfer from Juventus to his former club Manchester United was completed on Tuesday, was playing in his 180th international.
Daei had scored his 109 goals in 149 appearances between 1993 and 2006.
Ronaldo tied with Daei at the recent Euro 2020 tournament, thanks to a brace against France.
He did not score again there as Portugal went out 1-0 in the next game against Belgium.
At the tournament he became the first man to score at five Euros, the all-time event top scorer with 11 goals and Euro 2020 top marksman with five goals.
He scored his first Portugal goal at Euro 2004 in a 2-1 defeat against Greece.
Ronaldo is also the UEFA Champions League top scorer with 134 goals.
Egypt and Libya recorded home wins on Wednesday night in Group F Matchday 1 of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers.
The Pharaohs scored early to beat Angola 1-0 in Cairo, while the Mediterranean Knights needed a stoppage-time goal to beat Gabon 2-1 in Benghazi.
At the June 30 Stadium in Cairo, Egypt had a penalty kick awarded after four minutes for a foul on Ahmed Aboul Fetouh inside the visitors’ area.
From the penalty kick spot, Mohamed “Afsha” Magdy made no mistake to put the Pharaohs ahead.
In spite of being hot favourites to win, the Pharaohs survived numerous scares from Fabio Abreu and his teammates.
However, goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy stood tall to thwart all Angolan scoring chances.
In the second half, chances were rare for both sides, as Hossam Elbadry men cruised to a minimal but vital win at home.
The Pharaohs next stop will be Franceville, where they face Gabon on Sunday.
In the other Group F match, Libya came from behind to secure a home victory in the dying seconds over Patrice Neuveu’s Gabon in Benghazi.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring via Andre Biyogo Poko after 11 minutes.
Just before the half-hour mark, Ali Salama’s header restored parity for the hosts after a corner-kick.
After the goal, Libya pushed even harder for victory, but they had to wait until the second half’s dying seconds.
Four minutes into injury time, Sanad EL Warfali took advantage of a counter-attack to give the Mediterranean Knights a precious victory which put them on top of the group.
Libya will head to Luanda to face Angola on Tuesday.
The Eagles of Mali started their Group E campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Qualifiers with a 1-0 win over Rwanda at Grand Stade d’Agadir in Morocco on Wednesday evening.
They dominated the game which was moved to Morocco as Mali lacked approval of a home stadium.
Mohamed Magassouba’s men dominated the game and created the most dangerous chances from the start.
The Eagles had an early chance to take the lead when Moussa Djenepo was fouled inside the Rwandan area after 18 minutes.
From the penalty kick spot, Djenepo tried to score himself, but was stopped by Rwanda goalkeeper Emery Mvuyekure.
Mali however took the lead a couple of minutes later, when Adama Traore put the Eagles ahead after 20 minutes.
Rwanda Amavubi tried to find the equaliser, but were stopped by Mali’s defenceline and goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro.
After the break, Mali were still the side with more chances, but both teams failed to score as the Eagles bagged their first points of the campaign.
Kenya take on Uganda in the other Group E game in Nairobi on Thursday in what is expected to be a hotly-contested derby.
Matches between the two sides have often than not been explosive and it will be no different when they start the journey towards Qatar 2022 at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Uganda’s head coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic will be making his first competitive appearance on the dugout since returning for his second stint as the Cranes head coach.
The coach is confident that in spite of handling a team on transition, he has enough in the gas to pocket three points away from home.
“We respect Kenya as a team and as a nation but we are here to fight and ensure we get a good result. This will be a match that will test the character of my players and there is a lot at stake.
“It will be more difficult because you are playing against a team and players that know you and you know them,” Micho said.
He added: “We are playing a very good and competitive team and they have an advantage because most of their players have been active in leagues while ours has been on recess.
“It will be a match that will be decided on small details and I hope that the small details go our way.”
The last time ”Micho” played against the Harambee Stars was in October in a friendly match while with Zambia, with the game ending 2-1 in favour of the Harambee Stars.
The Serbian tactician hopes that his return to Nairobi will be a happier one this time around.
Meanwhile, Harambee Stars coach Jacob “Ghost” Mulee is a man who knows Micho and Uganda inside out.
He has worked for a long time as a pundit and FIFA Instructor over the 10 years he was out of coaching.
“I know Micho very well because he has been in the continent for long. He has a very good CV as a coach and definitely it will be tough against him.
“But this is football and it is the 90 minutes on the pitch that will decide,” Mulee said.
He added: “Uganda have a very good team and this being a derby, they will definitely want to carry the bragging rights. As a team we have prepared well and everyone is looking forward to giving a good account of themselves.”
The last three meetings between the two sides have ended in draws, all coming off friendly matches.
The other competitive meetings between the two sides have come off at the CECAFA Senior Challenge.
But the biggest was in October 2011 when Kenya held the Ugandans to a 0-0 draw in Kampala, denying them a chance of progressing to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Both sides will be keen to pick a positive result on Thursday as Kenya are headed to Rwanda for their second match against hosts Amavubi while Uganda are home against Mali.
France failed to bounce back from their surprise Euro 2020 elimination as they were held to a 1-1 draw in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers by Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday.
Les Bleus, who went out in the last 16 of the European Championship after a shock penalty kicks shootout loss to Switzerland, fell behind to Edin Dzeko’s 36th-minute strike in Strasbourg.
But they were quickly back on terms following a fortuitous goal for Antoine Griezmann.
Didier Deschamps’ side would have been expecting to push on for a win in the second half of the Group D clash to go six points clear of second-placed Ukraine.
Ukraine had drawn 2-2 with Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday.
However, after a deadline-day switch from Sevilla to Chelsea failed to materialise, Jules Kounde was shown a red card for a lunge on Sead Kolasinac.
This was followed by a VAR check and France had to at the end of the day settle for a point.
Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty kick against Switzerland at Euro 2020 but went close to getting back on the scoresheet on Wednesday.
That was when his effort from the tightest of angles crashed behind off the near-post in the 27th minute.
Miralem Pjanic warmed the gloves of Hugo Lloris before Dezko seized upon a wayward Thomas Lemar pass.
He drilled a fine 20-yard effort through Presnel Kimpembe’s legs and into the bottom-right corner.
France were somewhat lucky to restore parity three minutes later.
Dzeko headed a corner-kick against Griezmann’s back and following a VAR check it was clear Ibrahim Sehic had failed to keep the ball out after a slight touch off Dennis Hadzikadunic.
Aurelien Tchouameni was sent on for his debut at half-time but France’s plan was thrown into disarray following Kounde’s late tackle on Kolasinac, who had to be replaced by Eldar Civic.
Bosnia had a couple of chances to steal a famous win, but Smail Prevljak and Pjanic were unable to find the target with their efforts inside the final five minutes.
Central African Republic (CAR) and Cape Verde played to a 1-1 draw in Douala, Cameroon on Wednesday in their first match of the qualifiers to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Central Africans, who were hosting the game in Douala due to the non-approval of the Bangui Stadium, found a tough encounter in their Group C opener.
They faced a well-organised team in Cape Verde, especially in the middle of the pack.
Their visitors played in an organised and dangerous manner and were rewarded after 36 minutes when Julio Tavares broke the deadlock with a neat finish off a Rocha Santos pass.
This was the fourth goal for Tavares in a Blue Shark jersey.
The islanders were rewarded for a more positive start as they dominated play and looked the most dangerous all through the opening minutes.
Tavares came close on two occasions, but was not lucky enough to add his second of the afternoon.
In the second half however, CAR were more adventurous and they got back on level terms just seven minutes after the restart.
That was when Tresor Toropite found the back of the net with a close range finish.
The 27-year-old forward boxed himself in a forest of defenders before scoring the equaliser, taking his side back into the game.
The CAR side pushed hard in the remaining minutes to try and steal a victory off the face of defeat, but were not lucky enough to get a second goal and seal the game.
They will be away to Liberia in the second round of matches on Monday while Cape Verde host Nigeria on Tuesday.