Cristiano Ronaldo has broken Ali Daei’s 15-year international scoring record after netting his 110th and then 111th goal for Portugal in a thrilling comeback win.
The 36-year-old equalled Daei’s mark at the Euros this summer and bagged the record-breaking strike against The Republic of Ireland in Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier.
Buoyed by his return to Manchester United, the striker had an early chance to break the record from the penalty spot but was made to wait after his effort was saved by Gavin Bazunu.
Cristiano Ronaldo is out on his own as the most prolific goalscorer in international football
The legendary Portugal star celebrated in trademark fashion after a brilliant comeback
Ronaldo roared in celebration but knew the job was not done and managed to grab another
Man United’s new striker wheeled away in celebration after heading his team level late on
Portugal then fell behind to a John Egan goal and needed their talisman to step up and save them.
He did just that, leaping in trademark style to power a headed equaliser into the net and reach the personal milestone.
And there was another twist, minutes after had Ronaldo broken the record, he extended it with a dramatic late winner in the 96th minute, another salmon-like leap and exactly the same result.
The Portuguese icon took his shirt off in wild celebration on one of the most memorable nights of a career littered with them.
United fans will be salivating at the prospect of Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford in top form.
The 36-year-old has joined Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on a £385,000-a-week deal having left Juventus on deadline day. He will be looking to light up the Premier League and continue to defy the march of time on his body.
Ronaldo, who took home the golden boot from the Euros with six goals is now 34 strikes ahead of the next-highest active men’s player (behind Daei) Ali Mabkhout, who has 76 goals in 92 for the UAE.
Daei scored 109 times for Iran between 1993 and 2006. The prolific forward has now seen his record surpassed and Ronaldo is likely to forge wider gap before he calls time on his career.
Ronaldo scored with two trademark power headers to overcome the Republic of Ireland
Ronaldo missed a penalty in the first half but more than made up for it in the second
The 36-year-old has now broken Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals for Iran between 1993 and 2006
Ronaldo’s first international goal was a consolation in the Euro 2004 curtain-raiser against Greece, before he scored the opener in the semi-final against the Netherlands.
A rematch against Greece followed in the final and while that also ended in heartbreak, the Madeira-born prodigy’s time on the biggest stages was only just beginning.
Despite only scoring one goal apiece in each of his three major tournaments, Ronaldo stepped up against the Netherlands in the group stage of Euro 2012.
He latched onto Joao Pereira’s through ball to slot home an equaliser from close range on 28 minutes after Rafael van der Vaart had opening the scoring for the Dutch, before Nani crossed for Ronaldo, who sat Gregory van der Wiel down and paused before lashing past Maarten Stekelenburg.
He then scored the winner against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals with a majestic header.
Daei was prolific for Iran over many years but his record has now been overtaken
Ronaldo has reached a memorable record and will now look to extend it as far as he can
However, Paulo Bento’s men exited the competition on penalties after a 0-0 draw against Spain.
A group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup was a painful experience for Ronaldo, but as entered his 30s, the clinical instincts that had made him so revered at Real Madrid started to come to the fore more regularly.
Ronaldo’s sumptuous flick and bullet header against Hungary helped Fernando Santos’ side come from behind twice to secure a 3-3 draw.
Portugal overcame Croatia and Poland before Ronaldo’s astonishing aerial ability made it 1-0 against Wales, with Nani doubling the favourites’ advantage.
He was then a frustrated bystander for much of the final after being forced off through injury, cajoling and roaring his team-mates on from the sidelines as a solitary Eder strike saw Portugal defeat France to secure their first trophy.
Ronaldo scores Portugal’s first goal of Euro 2004 against Holland more than a decade ago
Ronaldo slots home in a ground match against the Czech Republic in Euro 2008
Any questions about Ronaldo’s standing in international tournaments had been well and truly banished by now and he claimed his first hat-trick at the Euros or the World Cup, winning a penalty, seeing a late first-half effort spilled by David de Gea and then hitting a glorious, dipping, swerving free kick in the 88th minute after it looked like Spain would take the three points from an enthralling 2018 World Cup clash.
Portugal’s journey ended in the last 16 to an Edinson Cavani-inspired Uruguay, but he enjoyed his finest tournament for his country at this year’s rearranged Euros.
Two goals against Hungary and France either side of a glorious counter-attacking move that he started and finished against Germany showed that he is still razor sharp.
And he has continued in the same vein in the World Cup qualifiers by rescuing his side while simultaneously breaking the international scoring record. All in a day’s work.
Ronaldo held up his shirt to show the crowd his name and they lapped it up