Cristiano Ronaldo scored his eighth hat-trick for Portugal as the reigning European champions overwhelmed Lithuania 5-1 in Vilnius for their second win in Euro 2020 qualifying. In the process, they pulled to within 5 points of table-toppers Ukraine, having played a game less than the East European nation.
Having scored a hat-trick against Armenia in the 2016 Euro qualifiers, Ronaldo became the 14th player to score multiple hat-tricks in Euro qualifiers and the fifth active player to do so, following Robert Lewandowski of Poland (2016 Euro qualifiers), Steven Fletcher of Scotland (2016 Euro qualifiers), Artyom Dzyuba of Russia (2016, 2020 Euro qualifiers) and Eran Zahavi of Israel (2020 Euro qualifiers).
It was also the 6th hat-trick of the 2020 Euro qualifiers. As far as qualifying campaigns go, the 2000 Euro qualifiers witnessed the most hat-tricks (16) of all qualifying campaigns for the European Championships so far.
Ronaldo opened the scoring against Lithuania from the penalty spot in the seventh minute with his 111th successful penalty for club and country. Vytautas Andriuškevičius scored an equaliser against the run of play as the hosts went into half-time at 1-1.
The Juventus marksman soon restored Portugal's lead sixteen minutes into the second half via a generous deflection off the Lithuanian goalkeeper. Four minutes later, Ronaldo completed his eighth hat-trick for the national team by scoring his 92nd goal in a Portuguese shirt.
It was a landmark goal for Ronaldo as the Portugal captain usurped Robbie Keane of Ireland (23 goals) for the most goals in Euro qualifying history with 24 net-bulgers.
Ronaldo found the back of the net on another occasion in the game, fourteen minutes from time for his second four-goal haul for Portugal (the other came against Andorra in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers) as the European champions completed a thumping 5-1 win over Lithuania to bring their qualification charge back on track.Published 11 Sep 2019, 13:38 IST