Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that his penalty miss took some time to get over before he broke the men’s international scoring record with a dramatic brace to beat Republic of Ireland.
The Portugal forward came into the World Cup qualifier level with Iranian goalscoring legend Ali Daei, who netted 109 times between 1993 and 2006.
Ronaldo was handed the perfect chance to break the record when the hosts were handed a first-half penalty when the referee adjudged Jeff Hendrick had fouled Bruno Fernandes in the box.
There was then a lengthy VAR review with images appearing to show Manchester United ’s latest signing raising his hand to Dara O’Shea.
No action was taken and after a three minute wait, Ronaldo stepped up to break Daei’s record only for Shamrock Rovers keeper Gavin Bazunu to save the spot-kick.
The 36-year-old was visibly annoyed, attempting to place the ball back on the spot in the hope of a reprieve from VAR.
That didn’t come and Ireland actually took the lead in the Estadio Algarve when John Egan’s glancing header put them one up.
And Stephen Kenny’s men were just minutes away from one of their greatest ever results when Ronaldo did what Ronaldo has always done: popping up to score a pair of brilliant headers in added-on time.
“I’m so happy, not just because I beat the record, but for the special moment that we had. I have to appreciate what the team did, we believed until the end. I’m so glad,” he told RTE after the final whistle.
But in an interview with TNT Brasil, Ronaldo claimed that it took him almost ten minutes to get his head back after Bazunu denied him from the spot.
He added: “It was a record I really wanted to break. After missing the penalty, I was there for 10 minutes a little sad but that’s what football is all about.
“We have to believe until the end. The fans helped us a lot but the work of the team that believed prevails until the end.”
It was also Ronaldo’s – record-equalling – 180th cap for the Portugal national side, bringing him level with his former Real Madrid teammate and Spain legend Sergio Ramos.
He is now just 15 caps off the overall men’s record in that department, with Soh Chin Ann’s 195 Malaysia appearances the leading figure, according to FIFA.
Ronaldo was already the leading scorer in European Championship history with 14 and at Euros and World Cups combined (21).
However, he is still some way off the all-time international record, including women’s football, with Canada striker Christine Sinclair sitting on 187 goals from 304 caps and she has yet to retire.
The Man United striker was ruled out of the Selecao’s next World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in Baku after he was booked during the celebrations, meaning he could return to Carrington early ahead of his second Premier League debut.