Cristiano Ronaldo broke France legend Michel Platini’s record as part of a late brace to see off Hungary at a full Budapest stadium in Portugal’s Euro 2020 opener, beating the side who nearly knocked them out of Euro 2016.
Targeting an easier group stage than they managed at the last finals, when two Ronaldo goals rescued a point and third place in an epic 3-3 draw with Hungary, Portugal were confronted by hosts clearly eager to pressure their passing from the outset.
Diogo Jota had a shot saved by Peter Gulacsi with six minutes gone, although that left Ronaldo, becoming the first player to play in five Euro tournament, fuming to his left at a pass that the Liverpool man really should have spotted, spurning the opportunity to supply the striker with a clear sight of goal.
Despite dominating, that was as close as Portugal came in a first half that pleased the massed ranks of Hungary fans at the Puskas Arena. Around 60,000 booed Ronaldo every time he received the ball, willing their side to harass the dangerman, which they did with at least two players whenever he took possession.
The second half followed a familiar pattern as Portugal bossed play without acutely worrying Hungary. Bruno Fernandes found space to smash a shot in from distance that was destined for the bottom left-hand corner of Gulacsi’s net, drawing an alert stop from the goalkeeper to tip the effort around the post at full stretch.
Szabolcs Schon only made his debut for Hungary against Ireland last week, and the 20-year-old Dallas prodigy nearly earned the greatest moment of his career so far when he fired beyond Rui Patricio from a right-wing cross, only to see the offside flag correctly raised.
Within minutes, frustration turned to pain for Hungary. Rafa Silva found Raphael Guerreiro inside the penalty area, and his slash at the ball with the outside of a boot found its way past Gulacsi via a deflection off Willi Orban.
Rafa Silva and Orban were again involved in the moment that brought Ronaldo his latest record, the defender conceding a penalty that Ronaldo emphatically converted to Gulacsi’s left, racing away to roar with joy to the side of the goal.
Two minutes into added time, the man who had just eclipsed Platini’s haul of nine goals at the finals showed dazzling footwork for his second, leaving Gulacsi grounded and slotting in from close range to seal a hard-fought victory.
Now three goals behind Ali Daei’s all-time individual goals record of 109, Ronaldo was more interested in imploring his team to stay focused afterwards.
10 – Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first player in European Championship Finals history to score 10 goals in the competition, overtaking Michel Platini’s record of nine, all of which he scored in the 1984 edition. History. #EURO2020pic.twitter.com/j89tNODaTv
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 15, 2021
“The important thing was to win,” he said, reflecting on a final flourish that saw Portugal score three times in little more than ten minutes.
“It was a difficult game against opponents who defended very well, but we scored three goals and I am very grateful to the team for helping me to score two goals and be the [UEFA award] Star of the Match.”
“It was essential to start on the right foot to give us confidence, and now it is necessary to continue like this and win the next game.”