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Cristiano Ronaldo means business ahead of Euro 2024 with double for Portugal
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Damian Spellman
Press Association
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 130 goals for Portugal (Luis Vieira/AP)
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 130 goals for Portugal (Luis Vieira/AP)

Cristiano Ronaldo announced himself ready for Euro 2024 with a stunning double as Portugal completed their preparations with a 3-0 friendly victory over Republic of Ireland.

The 39-year-old, who had earlier hit the post with a deflected free-kick, marked his 207th senior cap with his 129th and 130th international goals a week before Roberto Martinez’s men launch their Group F campaign against Czech Republic in Leipzig.

Skipper Ronaldo’s sweet 50th and 60th-minute strikes coupled with Joao Felix’s first-half opener handed the hosts a comfortable win in Aveiro as the second phase of John O’Shea’s audition for the job of Ireland head coach ended in sobering fashion.

The Republic may not have been expected to beat a side ranked sixth and 54 places above them by FIFA, but O’Shea’s exhortations to be “horrible” to play against came to nothing as the organisation they had shown to frustrate and ultimately beat Hungary a week earlier deserted them in the face of a relentless onslaught.

They had started confidently enough with Jake O’Brien, making his first start for Ireland, dealing with Bruno Fernandes’ 13th-minute cross after the Manchester United midfielder had accepted Rafael Leao’s pass and been forced wide by keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

O’Brien stood firm once again to bar Joao Cancelo’s path to goal and Robbie Brady rattled Diogo Dalot as the visitors warmed to their task, but Kelleher had to block Felix’s 18th-minute shot with his foot after Fernandes, Ronaldo and Dalot had linked to set him up.

However, the respite proved temporary as Ireland slept at the resulting corner to allow Cancelo and Fernandes to play it short and feed Felix, who drilled a low drive into the bottom corner.

The woodwork came to Kelleher’s rescue four minutes later when Ronaldo, who sat out last week’s friendlies against Finland and Croatia, took aim at his goal for the first time from a 25-yard free-kick which clipped Adam Idah in the defensive wall and came back off the upright with Seamus Coleman preventing Leao from converting the rebound.

Fernandes curled a 29th-minute attempt into the side-netting from Ronaldo’s lay-off with Joao Neves orchestrating from the middle of the field and Felix probing as the Portuguese went through the gears to pin Ireland back deep inside their own half.

Idah made a rare foray into enemy territory 10 minutes before the break, but delayed his pass to Sammie Szmodics, whose shot was blocked by defender Goncalo Inacio, and the Norwich frontman blasted into the side-netting seconds later after Coleman had forced his way into the Portugal penalty area.

Leao fired over after cutting inside menacingly from Antonio Silva’s raking crossfield pass and Ronaldo, much to his annoyance, saw extended appeals for a stoppage-time penalty after he had gone to ground under Brady’s challenge waved away by referee Chris Kavanagh, much to his clear annoyance.

The Al-Nassr frontman almost had the last laugh when he ran on to Fernandes’ astute lay-off, but directed his well-struck effort straight at Kelleher as Ireland made it to half-time without further mishap.

There was little let-up after the break as the home side despite featuring five changes continued to dominate possession, and they increased their lead within five minutes, inevitably through their skipper and talisman.

Ronaldo had pulled wide on the right to accept substitute Ruben Neves’ long ball before cutting inside Liam Scales and dispatching a left-foot shot into the top corner with Kelleher helpless.

He doubled his tally on the hour, emphatically sweeping home substitute Diogo Jota’s cross with the visitors wilting under sustained pressure.

Kelleher palmed away a Fernandes shot and after fortuitously emerging from a tangle with Ronaldo with the ball, saw another attempt by the midfielder deflected wide on a night of little joy for the small band of travelling fans behind his goal.


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