Without their record-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Martinez’s Portugal took on underdogs Luxembourg in their sixth 2024 European Championship qualifier on Monday night (September 11). Despite playing without their undisputed talisman, the 2016 European Champions managed to record their biggest win in history, inflicting a 9-0 defeat upon Luxembourg.
Portugal were a class above their opponents
Os Navegadores were at their merciless best against the hapless Luxembourg at the Estadio Algarve on Monday night, scoring four goals in the first half and the remaining nine in the second to create a new record. Furthermore, their efficiency was praiseworthy, with them scoring nine times from their 10 attempts on target.
Goncalo Inacio scored the first goal for Portugal in the 12th minute, connecting with Bruno Fernandes’ cross into the box and directing it past the goalkeeper. Goncalo Ramos, who started in the suspended (3 yellow cards) Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, scored the second goal in the 17th minute, applying the finishing touch to Bernardo Silva’s offload inside the box.
Ramos and Inacio scored the third and fourth goals for Portugal in the 33rd and 49th (+4) minutes, respectively. Ramos received the ball from Rafael Leao before beating defenders with a swift turn and slotting it under the onrushing keeper. Inacio, on the other hand, scored another stunning header off another inch-perfect Fernandes cross.
In the 57th and 67th minutes, Diogo Jota and Ricardo Horta got on the scoresheet. Fernandes found Jota with a long ball over the top, which the Liverpool man put away with aplomb. Ten minutes later, Jota turned provider, assisting Horta’s superbly taken goal.
Having claimed three assists, Fernandes got on the scoresheet in the 83rd minute, applying a cool finish to Horta’s pass. Barcelona man Joao Felix scored the final goal of the game in the 88th minute, finding the top-right corner with a sublime curler.
Danilo Reaffirms Cristiano Ronaldo’s Importance
Following Portugal’s 9-0 victory, it was suggested that the result might have not been as emphatic had Ronaldo played. Danilo Pereira shot the suggestions down, insisting that the 38-year-old’s presence would not have harmed their effectiveness.
Speaking after the game, the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) man said (via GOAL):
“If Cristiano Ronaldo was here, the result would also be like this. He would help with goals and assists. It wasn’t because of his absence that this game was won by eight or nine goals.”
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the most prolific goalscorer in international soccer, having scored an all-time-high 123 goals in a record 201 games.