Four-star Ronaldo targets perfect run-in to World Cup 2018

Portugal are placed third in Group B, three points behind leaders Switzerland


Afp October 08, 2016
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second goal against Andorra on October 7, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

AVEIRO, PORTUGAL: Cristiano Ronaldo marked his international return with four goals in a 6-0 mauling of hapless Andorra on Friday and then demanded eight more wins to guarantee Portugal a place in the 2018 World Cup.

The Real Madrid superstar took his Portugal career tally to 65 goals in 134 games but his team, the European champions, are only third in Group B, a point behind minnows Faroe Islands and three back from leaders Switzerland.

Only the group winners are certain of making the finals in Russia.

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On Friday, the Swiss followed their opening 2-0 win over the Portuguese with a last-gasp 3-2 triumph at Hungary while the Faroes beat Latvia 2-0 in Riga.

"We know that Switzerland and the Faroes won tonight and it will be necessary for us to beat them during qualification," said Ronaldo. "There are eight games left and we want to win them all to reach the World Cup finals."

Ronaldo, 31, was making his first appearance for Portugal since he was stretchered off injured and in tears from the final of Euro 2016, where his country beat France.

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He wasted no time in making up for his three-month absence from international football, getting off the mark after just 73 seconds.

He was on target again two minutes later while adding two more after the interval.

"I know that I am an important player and I have always done my best since I started my international career. I scored four goals tonight and obviously I am very happy to have come back after my serious injury in the Euros final," he said. "We knew that the first goal tonight would be very important because they are a team who defend with 11 players.

"Things went well. We scored twice in the first five minutes and the match became a lot easier."

Portugal will be in action again on Monday when they travel to the Faroes.

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