Portugal 1-0 Armenia: Ronaldo scores late winner

Cristiano Ronaldo’s close-range finish earned Portugal a 1-0 win in a scrappy Euro 2016 qualifier with Armenia in Faro on Friday.

In netting the winner, the Real Madrid forward became the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championship qualification and finals combined, his 23rd strike seeing him overtake Dane Jon Dahl Tomasson and former Turkey striker Hakan Sukur.

It was his 25th goal of the season for club and country, and settled a dour affair which offered little in the way of attacking quality.

Having lost their previous home encounter in the section – against Albania on matchday one – the hosts looked determined to prevent a similar situation arising again but struggled to find the final touch. Hélder Postiga and Danny got in each others way as they both went after a dropping ball in the visiting area before Tiago headed a Nani free-kick just over.

Danny’s shot from the edge of the area was straight at goalkeeper Roman Berezovski who then excellently denied Ronaldo before the No7 lashed the rebound a fraction wide. The hosts had the better of the first period but Armenia were not entirely subdued; Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free-kick almost deflected past Rui Patrício who then denied Kamo Hovhannisyan’s stinging shot after the midfielder was released into the area.

The pattern of Portugal forcing the pace and Armenia hitting on the counter continued in the second half, and it was Danny who went the closest to breaking the deadlock as he looped a header onto the crossbar with Berezovski beaten, though Taron Voskanyan wasted an outstanding opening with his head at the other end.

Portugal toiled as did their talisman Ronaldo, but he eventually came good and won it on 72 minutes. It was the scrappiest of goals as Ricardo Quaresma’s shot was saved before the rebound was scuffed back into the area where the No7 – almost on the goal-line – needed two swipes at the ball to put it in. It was far from the Real Madrid CF man’s best, but was enough to make him the European Championship’s top scorer – qualifying and finals combined – as well as securing a vital three points for his side which takes them second in the section.

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