STOCKHOLM • Cristiano Ronaldo has set his sights on Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals following a double in Portugal’s 2-0 Nations League win away to Sweden that saw him reach 101 goals for his country since his debut in 2004.
Having missed Portugal’s Nations League opener against Croatia on Saturday with a toe injury, Ronaldo wasted no time on his return.
He curled in a first-half effort from 23m over the wall and into the top left corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Robin Olsen, his 10th goal for his country from a direct free kick. His 80th from open play came in the 72nd minute, cutting back inside the Swedish defence and producing a deft finish into the far corner from 18m.
“I managed to beat this milestone of 100 goals and now (I’ll go) for the record. It’s step by step. I am not obsessed because I believe the records come in a natural way,” the 35-year-old Juventus star said.
“When I had this problem in my toe I always knew that I could recover for this second game. I like to be here, with this group of players, coach, staff and knew that they would play well in the first game as our squad is too good and no one is irreplaceable.”
Going into Tuesday’s clash, Sweden were among 41 countries Ronaldo had scored against.
Having netted five times in his previous encounters against the Nordic side, few would have bet against him writing more history in the Swedish capital, especially after Gustav Svensson was sent off in the 44th minute.
Pele, who scored 77 goals for Brazil and is regarded as one of the greatest to play the game, saw the milestone coming.
“I thought we were going to celebrate 100 goals today. But it was actually 101! Congratulations @Cristiano, as you reach new heights in your journey,” the three-time World Cup winner tweeted.
Ronaldo, capped 165 times by Portugal, forced another fine save from Olsen before being replaced by Diogo Jota in the 81st minute.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair holds the all-time international record with 186 goals.
Ronaldo can close in on the men’s mark when the holders Portugal meet world champions France in Paris on Oct 11.
At the Stade de France, Eduardo Camavinga made history of his own, becoming France’s youngest international in 96 years as Les Bleus won a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final over Croatia 4-2.
Rennes midfielder Camavinga, aged 17 years and nine months, replaced N’Golo Kante in the second half and is only surpassed by Julien Verbrugghe, aged 16 years and 10 months in 1906, and Maurice Gastiger, at 17 years and four months in 1914.
Antoine Griezmann, Dayot Upamecano, Olivier Giroud as well as an own goal from goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic secured a repeat result from Russia two years ago. Dejan Lovren and Josip Brekalo were Croatia’s scorers.
France coach Didier Deschamps told France’s TF1 broadcasters he would stick with an unfamiliar 3-4-1-2 formation although he conceded that it would take time for his team to get used to.
The result leaves them second on goal difference in Group A3.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE