LEIRIA, Portugal (AP) ― Cristiano Ronaldo became Portugal’s all-time leading scorer Wednesday, netting twice as Portugal thrashed Cameroon 5-1 in a warm-up match between teams preparing for the World Cup.
Ronaldo clinched his place in the record book with goals in the 21st and 83rd minutes, taking his international tally to 49. The 2013 FIFA world player of the year overtook Pauleta, who retired in 2006 after scoring 47 goals in 88 games. Ronaldo was making his 110th appearance.
“I knew it would come eventually,” Ronaldo said. “It’s special because I’ve been in the national team for 10 years now. It’s all down to hard work.”
|Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (center) in action against Alexander Song (left) of Cameroon during the international friendly football match between Portugal and Cameroon at Magalhaes Pessoa Stadium in Leiria, Portugal, Wednesday. (EPA-Yonhap)|
Vincent Aboubakar equalized for Cameroon with a close-range volley in the 43rd as both teams delivered some slick attacking play.
But the African team tired and after two goals in two minutes, from Raul Meireles in the 66th and then Fabio Coentrao, Ronaldo set up substitute Edinho’s goal in the 77th before sealing the win in the late stages.
Standing on the edge of the area for his first goal, Ronaldo received the ball from the right flank, neatly shifted his weight to lose his marker, and hit a low drive into the corner.
Seven minutes before the end, Ronaldo picked up a loose ball inside the area and tucked his shot into the corner.
The Indomitable Lions will be in Group A at the World Cup with host Brazil, Mexico and Croatia. Portugal will play in Group G with Germany, Ghana and the United States.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento sprang some surprises in his starting lineup, picking three upcoming youngsters: defensive midfielder William, making his second appearance at age 21, and 20-year-old attackers Ivan Cavaleiro and Rafa ― both of them earning their first caps. All of them produced competent performances.
A late injury ruled out Pepe, leaving a rare pairing of Rolando and Neto in Portugal’s central defense.
Samuel Eto’o and Aboubakar repeatedly teamed up to worry the home defense in the early stages, with the Chelsea striker testing Beto with a header from a 10th-minute corner.
Ronaldo came close to extending his tally in the 53rd when his free kick brushed the Cameroon post, and two minutes later substitute N’Dy Assembe produced a reflex save to deny the Portugal captain at the back post.
Meireles pounced on a defensive blunder to put Portugal back in the lead, then Coentrao broke inside from the left to shoot past out-of-position Assembe.