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heartbreak 'Beaten by the best player in the world' - Richard Dunne on Cristiano Ronaldo's late show

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Pedro Nunes

Richard Dunne believes Ireland were denied a famous victory against Portugal by the "best player in the world" after Cristiano Ronaldo's two late goals left Stephen Kenny's men heartbroken in the Algarve.

Ireland were closing in on a famous win as John Egan's first half header coupled with Gavin Bazunu's penalty save from Ronaldo pushed Ireland to within two minutes of victory.

That before Ronaldo stepped forward with two late headers to become the all-time record goal scorer and secure his side a 2-1 triumph that could be crucial to their hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup finals.

Ronaldo – who completed a surprise move back to Manchester United ahead of the transfer deadline – was already one of only two men with a century of international goals to his name and has now moved two clear of Iran’s Ali Daei at the top of the all-time list.

While it was a glorious moment for Ronaldo, the late despair left former Ireland defender Dunne lamenting what might have been, as he gave his verdict to Sky Sports.

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1 September 2021; Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

1 September 2021; Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

1 September 2021; Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group A match between Portugal and Republic of Ireland at Estádio Algarve in Faro, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"I'm gutted for the lads," said Dunne. "You have to take some positives out of the night as it was such a fantastic performance, but we were beaten by the best player in the world.

"We thought it was going to be our night. Bazunu made some great saves from the penalty and the free-kick at the end, but then he comes to life.

"Two fantastic headers. As we watched the game go along, Ireland had condensed the middle of the pitch and allowed Portugal to cross the ball, but a lot of the crosses were from much deeper.

"Then they got into a good position, hung the ball up for Ronaldo and the power he gets in the ball under pressure from Shane Duffy, it is a fantastic header.

"Then you are thinking can we hang on. Even though we had done so well, it just felt something was going to happen for him.

"It's incredible. It's what makes him different to every other footballer in the world, he has that ability to hang in the air. Then the header, the direction is just fantastic. It comes down to the way he looks after himself, the strength in his core. He's fantastic."

Ronaldo's claimed one of the great records in world football as he became the top international goal scorer of all-time with his brace against Ireland and Dunne suggests his latest record will help to cement his legacy as one of the game's greatest players.

"It's unrealistic to score that amount of goals, it's frightening," he added. "The game is never over because they have got Ronaldo. It looked like the game would go away and Ireland would have a famous victory, but out of no where, he has broken our hearts.

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"Over the period that this manager has been in charge, there has been a lot of negativity around the tactics and they way they have performed, but tonight he needs to be praised. He set the team up brilliantly. Then Ronaldo happened.

"The players look fit and hungry and the positives we take from this need to be converted into a result on Saturday."

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