Cristiano Ronaldo has broken Ali Daei’s 15-year international goalscoring record after scoring his 110th and then 111th goal for Portugal in a thrilling comeback win.
The 36-year-old equaled Daei’s mark at the European Championship this summer, taking the record-breaking strike against the Republic of Ireland in Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier.
Encouraged by his return to Manchester United, the striker had an early chance to break the record from the penalty spot, but had to wait after his attempt was saved by Gavin Bazunu.
Cristiano Ronaldo stands alone as the most prolific goalscorer in international football
The legendary star from Portugal celebrated in signature fashion after a brilliant comeback
Ronaldo roared to celebrate but knew the job wasn’t done and managed to grab another
Ronaldo drove away celebrating after scoring late at his team level
Portugal then fell behind a goal from John Egan and needed their talisman to stand up and save them.
He did just that, jumping in signature style to land a head-on equalizing goal and hit the personal milestone.
And there was another twist, minutes after Ronaldo broke the record, he extended it with a dramatic late winner in the 96th minute with another header.
The Portuguese icon took off his shirt in a wild party on one of the most memorable nights of a career fraught with it.
United fans will be salivating at the prospect of Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford in top form.
The 36-year-old has joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a deal of £385,000 a week after leaving Juventus on the deadline.
Ronaldo, who took home the golden boot of the European Championship with six goals, now has 34 goals ahead of Ali Mabkhout, the second highest active male player (after Daei), who has 76 goals in 92 for the UAE.
Daei scored 109 goals for Iran between 1993 and 2006.
Ronaldo scored with two signature powerheads to beat the Republic of Ireland
Ronaldo missed a penalty in the first half but more than made up for it in the second
The 36-year-old has now broken Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals for Iran between 1993 and 2006
Ronaldo’s first international goal was a consolation in the Euro 2004 curtain-raiser against Greece, before scoring the opener in the semi-final against the Netherlands.
A rematch against Greece followed in the final and while that also ended in heartbreak, the Madeiran-born prodigy’s time on the biggest stages was just beginning.
Despite scoring just one goal each in each of his three major tournaments, Ronaldo stepped up to the Netherlands in the Euro 2012 group stage, grabbing Joao Pereira’s through ball to score the equalizer from close range 28 minutes after Rafael van der Vaart had opening the scoring for the Dutch, before Nani crossed over for Ronaldo, who put down Gregory van der Wiel and paused before passing Maarten Stekelenburg.
He then scored the winner against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals with a majestic header.
However, Paulo Bento’s men left the competition on penalties after a 0-0 draw against Spain.
A group stage exit from the 2014 World Cup was a painful experience for Ronaldo, but in his thirties, the clinical instincts that had revered him so much at Real Madrid came to the fore more regularly.
Daei was prolific for Iran for years, but his record has now been surpassed
Ronaldo has achieved a memorable record and will now try to extend it as far as possible
Ronaldo’s sumptuous headbutt and ball-butt against Hungary helped Fernando Santos’ side twice from behind to secure a 3-3 draw.
Portugal defeated Croatia and Poland before Ronaldo’s astonishing aerial skills made it 1-0 against Wales, with Nani doubling the favourites’ advantage.
He was then a frustrated spectator for much of the final after being sidelined by injury, flattering and roaring at his teammates from the sidelines as a lone Eder attack Portugal defeated France to secure their first trophy.
All questions about Ronaldo’s standing in international tournaments were now definitively banned and he claimed his first hat-trick at the European Championship or the World Cup, won a penalty, saw a late effort of the first half wasted by David de Gea and then hit a glorious, dipping, evasive free-kick in the 88th minute after it looked like Spain would take the three points from a thrilling 2018 World Cup clash.
Portugal’s journey ended in the last 16 to an Edinson Cavani-inspired Uruguay, but he enjoyed his best tournament for his country at this year’s rescheduled European Championship.
Two goals against Hungary and France on either side of a glorious counter-attack he started and finished against Germany show that he is still razor sharp.
And he has continued along the same lines in the World Cup qualifiers by saving his side while breaking the international scoring record. All in a day’s work.
Ronaldo held up his shirt to show the crowd his name and they licked it up