Reigning European champions Portugal beat Hungary 3-0 in their opening game of Euro 2020 in Budapest.
After stubborn resistance, the Hungarians had their hearts broken late on. First by an 84th-minute Raphael Guerreiro deflected strike, and then a Cristiano Ronaldo brace.
The Juve striker stepped up to put the game to bed from the penalty spot moments later, and he added a third after some intricate passing.
The 36-year-old linked wonderfully well in the penalty box with substitutes Rafa Silva and Joao Moutinho, before rounding the goalkeeper to finish off the dogged hosts.
The goals move Ronaldo on to 11 at the Euros, two clear of previous joint-record holder Michel Platini.
Marco Rossi’s men had parked the bus successfully for 85 minutes, thinking that they had taken an unlikely lead when Szabolcs Schon beat Rui Patricio at his near post, but his dream strike would be ruled out for offside in a let off for the joint pre-tournament favourites.
Diogo Jota of Liverpool was wasteful with numerous chances, and Bruno Fernandes hardly got a sniff in the number 10 role, other than a long-range drive that tested Peter Gulacsi in the home net, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter; with the Portuguese ultimately reigning supreme, getting their Euros campaign off to the perfect start – just.
TALKING POINT – PORTUGAL DESERVING OF THE WIN, BUT WASTEFUL
The scoreline suggests a comfortable win for the visitors, when in actual fact it was something very difficult.
A late, last six-minute flurry padded the scoreline thrice positively in Portugal’s favour, but they were really starting to get frustrated by the staunch defensive wall of the Hungarians.
Jota had two great chances to put the Portuguese ahead. whilst Ronaldo could have had a hat-trick had he not missed a first-half sitter.
Rafa Silva was introduced for his namesake Bernardo to add pace and guile on the right, and it was he who ignited the visiting flame, and Portugal would storm to an opening three points that puts them in good stead in the Group of Death.
MAN OF THE MATCH – CRISTIANO RONALDO, PORTUGAL
The two-goal hero, captain fantastic, there aren’t enough names and superlatives for him.
He may not have had his greatest game today, but his off-the-ball movement and leadership spurred the frustrated Portuguese to keep pushing; keep the pressure on, and finally, they broke through.
He played a decoyed role in Guerreiro’s opener, drawing away a defender to afford his left-back the space to shoot. He would then show nerves of steel from the spot, doubling his side’s lead, before rounding off an outstanding penalty box move that he had started to make it 3-0.
The greatest ever? We’ll have to wait and see. In the European Championships, though? Most definitely.
Hungary: Gulasci 7, Lovrencsics 7, Botka 7, Orban 6, Szalai 6, Fiola 6, Kleinheisler 6, Nagy 7, Schafer 7, Sallai 6, Szalai 6, Nego 6, Schon 7, Siger 6, Varga 6, Varga 6.
Portugal: Patricio 6, Semedo 6, Pepe 6, Dias 6, Guerreiro 7, Carvalho 6, Danilo 6, Jota 5, Fernandes 6, Silva 6, Ronaldo 8, Rafa 7, Sanches 6, Silva 6, Moutinho 7.
19′: Beautiful clipped ball in behind from Pepe towards Ronaldo! Gulasci makes the save, but the flag is up regardless.
42′: Guerreiro, thought he was fouled… Fernandes’ cross… Ronaldo! Has to score, but it’s over! Huge chance. 0-0, still. #
68′: Jota, neat play by him… it opens up for Fernandes to hit it! Deflected wide by Gulasci, corner.
80′: GOAL! Is it? No! Hungary break quickly, Schon cuts inside, and strikes! He beats Patricio at his near post, but it’s ruled out for offside!
84′: GOAL! Finally ! Guerreiro breaks Hungary hearts, via the deflection off Orban, and into the far corner.
87′: PENALTY! GOAL! 2-0. Ronaldo, no mistake. Game over.
90′: GOAL! Ronaldo at the double! A deadly move; Rafa, Moutinho, the Juventus legend. Slicing the home defence open, Ronaldo sneaks through, rounds the keeper, and slides it home. 3-0. (EuroSport)