Ronaldo reaches century of international goals for Portugal

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LONDON: Add 100 international goals to the extraordinary list of milestones achieved by football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 35-year-old Ronaldo become just the second male player to reach a century of goals for a national team when he curled a free kick into the top corner from 25 metres for the first of his two strikes in Portugal’s 2-0 away win against Sweden in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Scoring one of the best goals of his international career was a fitting way to enter the “100 Club,” where he joins former Iran striker Ali Daei, and he wheeled away in delight in an empty Friends Arena in Stockholm before performing his trademark celebration — the mid-air pirouette.

Ronaldo, who was playing in his 165th game for Portugal, then added a second goal — another curler into the top corner — and needs nine more to surpass the international record of 109 scored by Daei from 1993-2006. The five-time world player of the year already holds the record for goals in the Champions League with 131 — 16 more than nearest rival Lionel Messi — and has now scored an international goal for the 17th straight calendar year.

“They are two important goals because it means I managed to reach this mark I’d been seeking,” Ronaldo told Portuguese public television RTP.

“I’m very happy, first because the team won and of course to score the 100th and then the 101st, two great goals.”

Portugal have won its two opening group games after beating Croatia 4-1 on Saturday, when Ronaldo was absent because of a toe infection.

Belgium and France also have maximum points. The top-ranked Belgians beat Iceland 5-1 and France defeated Croatia 4-2 — the same scoreline as the 2018 World Cup final.

England drew 0-0 at Denmark in Copenhagen.