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history made Cristiano Ronaldo's journey to claim one of the great records in international football


Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is interviewed after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve, Portugal.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is interviewed after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve, Portugal.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo is interviewed after the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at the Estadio Algarve, Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo set a new scoring record in international football as his late brace for Portugal in the 2-1 win over the Republic of Ireland at the Estadio Algarve took him to 111 goals.

Ronaldo – who completed a surprise move back to Manchester United this week – 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.

After achieving the feat to help Portugal come from behind and beat the Republic, Ronaldo told Sky Sports: “I’m very happy, not only because I beat the record, but for the special moments that we had.

“Two goals at the end of the game is so tough, but I have to appreciate what the team did until the end. For the supporters, I’m so glad.”

Here, we take a statistical look at the Portugal star’s scoring record.

Top of the class

Ronaldo’s first 50 goals came in 114 caps, but since then he has hit 61 in 66 which saw him chalk up a second half-century at a goal a game.

Daei, who took 149 games to reach the previous record of 109 had congratulated Ronaldo on drawing level with his mark during Euro 2020 earlier in the summer.

In a post on Instagram, Daei said he was “honoured” that his record would eventually pass to a “great champion of football”.

The duo are a long way clear of the next players on the all-time list.

Historical data can be patchy, but the reputable Rec Sports Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF) lists former Malaysia international Mohammed Mokhtar Dahari in third place on 89, followed by Hungary great Ferenc Puskas on 84.

Godfrey Chitalu follows with 79 for Zambia, one more than Hussein Saeed Mohammed for Iraq.

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Pele is next on 77 for Brazil, alongside Ali Mabhkout of the United Arab Emirates.

Ronaldo’s long-term rival Lionel Messi, now at Paris St Germain after leaving Barcelona, is in the top 10 with 76 goals in 151 caps.

The RSSSF lists Sandor Kocsis – Puskas’ long-term team-mate in the ‘Magical Magyars’ line-up of the 1950s – on 75 alongside Kunishige Kamamoto of Japan and Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah.

Tournament breakdown

Portugal’s qualification campaigns for World Cups and European Championships have accounted for more than half of Ronaldo’s goals.

The goals against the Republic of Ireland made it 33 in World Cup qualifiers.

The Manchester United forward has scored 14 in European Championship finals, including three as Portugal won the 2016 tournament in France and five in this summer’s group stage before the holders were knocked out by Belgium.

Ronaldo was the joint top scorer at Euro 2020 alongside Czech Republic frontman Patrik Schick.

A hat-trick against Spain saw Ronaldo score four at the 2018 World Cup and seven in total in his appearances at the tournament.

The three previous World Cups brought him just one goal apiece – against Iran in 2006, North Korea in 2010 and Ghana in 2014.

Ronaldo has five in two Nations League campaigns and scored twice at the 2017 Confederations Cup, with his remaining 19 international goals coming in friendlies.

Favourite opposition

Lithuania and Sweden have been on the receiving end of most Ronaldo goals – seven, after he scored four times against Lithuania in Vilnius and three in the return in Faro during Euro 2020 qualifying.

Ronaldo has six against Luxembourg, Hungary and Andorra with five each against Latvia, Armenia and Sweden.

The Portugal captain has scored against 44 different international opponents in all, having added Germany and France to that list during the Euro 2020 finals.

Ronaldo’s total against Andorra also includes a four-goal performance, in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, while he has further hat-tricks against Northern Ireland, Sweden, Armenia, the Faroe Islands, Spain and Switzerland.

Other than that treble against Northern Ireland in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldo’s only goal against the home nations came in the Euro 2016 semi-final win over Wales.

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