Portugal didn’t need Cristiano Ronaldo to achieve their biggest ever victory in a competitive match.
Luxembourg’s 9-0 European Championship qualifying victory on Monday took place without Ronaldo, who was suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards in earlier Group J matches.
In the absence of the five-time world player of the year and record goalscorer in men’s international competitions, Goncalo Ramos, Goncalo Inacio and Diogo Jota each scored twice, along with goals for Ricardo Horta, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix in the Algarve.
“It’s a satisfying aspect that when you’re leading 4-0 or 5-0, the team played in the same way as if it were 0-0,” said Portugal coach Roberto Martinez. “When you achieve that, it shows you what the players’ values are and that respect for the team is essential – it was really nice to see that.”
Ronaldo, 38, missed a golden opportunity to add to his tally of 123 international goals, but in a group where Portugal dominates with six straight wins, he will have four more opportunities. No other team has achieved as many qualifying victories.
Martinez’s team remained five points ahead of Slovakia and eight points ahead of Luxembourg. The top two from each group qualify automatically.
Ramos scored two of the team’s first three goals as Ronaldo’s replacement and appears to be most comfortable in the role.
He did this especially during last year’s World Cup in Qatar, when, after a huge call from then-coach Fernando Santos, Ronaldo was dropped to the bench during the match against Switzerland in the round of 16.
Ramos scored a hat-trick in this match, announcing himself to the football world. He has since completed a move from Benfica to Paris Saint-Germain and could become the long-term successor to Ronaldo, who currently plays in Saudi Arabia with a Portugal squad that is certainly heading to Euro 2024.
Germany’s 13-0 win over San Marino in 2006 remains the biggest ever European Championship qualifying win.
In the remaining matches in this group, Slovakia defeated Liechtenstein 3-0 and Iceland beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0.
In Group D, Croatia’s 1-0 victory over Armenia in Yerevan was delayed by about 70 seconds in the first half when a drone carrying the flag of Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan inhabited by Armenians, flew over the pitch – in honor of According to materials posted on social media, There was applause and applause from many fans.
The incident takes place in the midst of growing tension between Armenia and Azerbaijanand lawmakers from the region – called Artsakh by Armenians – vote in favor of the choice new separatist president on Saturday, which was strongly condemned by the Azerbaijani authorities.
This is expected to lead to disciplinary proceedings being initiated by UEFA due to the fact that it is a political statement made during the match.
In 2014, a drone carrying a political banner flew to the stadium Albania and Serbia they played in the qualifying round for the European Championship in Belgrade, which led to clashes between the players. Serbian fans also attacked members of the Albania team and threw flares on the pitch.
This match was abandoned and Serbia initially awarded UEFA a default 3-0 victory. The sanction was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Andrej Kramarić’s early goal sealed Croatia’s victory, taking the World Cup semi-finalists to first place in their group.
The striker hit the far post after Luka Modric’s corner kick in the 13th minute, bounced off the Armenian player and headed straight to Kramarić, who stuck out his foot and headed the ball into the goal. The goal was checked for offside as it turned out that Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol had also been touched.
After starting Group D with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Wales, Croatia won three games in a row to overtake Turkey on goal difference, having played one game less.
Wales won 2-0 in Latvia with goals from Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks and joined Armenia on seven points, three points behind Croatia and Turkey. The win came as a relief to Wales coach Robert Page, who faced mounting pressure after successive group defeats to Armenia and Turkey.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
AP Football: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer
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