Cristiano Ronaldo scored his ninth international hat-trick as Portugal moved to the brink of qualifying for Euro 2020 with a 6-0 thrashing of Lithuania in Faro on Thursday.
The reigning European champions were made to wait for qualification however as Serbia battled to a 3-2 win over Luxembourg in the other game in Group B. Ronaldo had been substituted in his last two club games by Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri, with the Italian claiming the striker had been struggling with a knee injury.
He reportedly left the stadium before the final whistle after being taken off by Sarri during Juve’s 1-0 Serie A win over AC Milan at the weekend. “I knew he (Ronaldo) was able to play,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos told Portuguese TV channel. “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.”
Portugal sit second in the standings behind Ukraine, who have already qualified, and one point clear of Serbia, but can secure their spot at next year’s finals with victory in Luxembourg on Sunday. Ronaldo has now scored 98 international goals and will be hoping to become the second-ever player to reach 100 this weekend.
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