Football can be very cruel and at Budapest, it was Hungary who had to swallow the cruel pill in a match where they did not deserve to lose by 3-0. They had been compact and kept the defending Euro Champions – Portugal at bay for the major part of the contest but in the last ten minutes, the complexion of the game changed and yet another match and yet another triumph for Cristiano Ronaldo.

An estimated 60, 000 fans were allowed to enjoy the match at the Puskas Arena despite the criticism but when the match progressed, one could not but admire the colour and wonderful sound the fans added.

Every supporter, including the estimated 4,500 from Portugal, had to produce proof of a negative Covid test to enter the perimeter of the stadium grounds.

The arrival times were staggered to ease congestion. If there was any apprehension among those with tickets, it was clearly not experienced by the hundreds of hardcore Hungarian fans in black-t-shirts who linked arms and bounced behind Peter Gulacsi’s goal in the first half.

The appeals to maintain social distancing that came over the PA system always did sound far-fetched in an arena housing the biggest attendance witnessed in European football for 15 months.

Even the piercing whistles that greeted Ronaldo’s every touch felt like a step back towards normality.

The Hungarians with their limited abilities continued to frustrate Portugal – Diogo Jota lost his temper early in an ongoing feud with Gergo Lovrencsics.

Portugal had been poorer in the final third and it seemed they would be punished for their lack of edge while finishing.

Bruno Fernandes was absent in the opening 45 minutes as he struggled to find space in front of Hungary’s resilience. Bernardo was Silva likewise. Diogo Jota was prominent on the left but a poor touch or the wrong final ball limited his effectiveness. Ronaldo squandered a gilt-edged chance to put the visitors in front moments before the break.

Jota forced Gulacsi into his first save in the fifth minute. Jota also miscued a volley wide when connecting with Fernandes’ free-kick unmarked inside the area. His third chance of the half, a shot on the turn following a neat combination between Nelson Semedo and Silva down the right, was blocked by the knee of Gulacsi. Silva was unable to capitalize when released inside the area by Ronaldo.

The best of the chances fell to Ronaldo when Fernandes produced a low cross into the penalty area and Ronaldo, completely free inside the six-yard box, side-footed over from point-blank range.

Deep into the second half, Adam Szalai and Andras Schafer both tested the visiting goalkeeper before substitute Szabolcs Schon sparked pandemonium when he cut in from the left and beat Rui Patricio at his near post with a blistering drive.

In the chaos, that involved flares being set off in the stands and a fan running onto the pitch, few noticed that referee Cuneyt Cakir had disallowed the effort for offside.

Raphael Guerreiro finally broke the deadlock six minutes from time when substitute Rafa Silva’s cross deflected into his path inside the area and his weak shot deflected in off Orban – Gulacsi was beaten. Two minutes later the highly effective Rafa Silva was felled in the box by Orban and Ronaldo had his moment for history from the penalty spot.

Then, after exchanging passes with Rafa Silva twice, he danced around Gulacsi before converting into an empty net.

Cristiano Ronaldo now stands alone as the all-time record goalscorer at European Championships, after also becoming the first player to feature at five Euro tournaments.

Ronaldo represented his country at every Euros since Portugal hosted the tournament in 2004, and he remains the talisman of the reigning champions 17 years later.

Ronaldo added several records to his impressive individual collection of honours at the Puskas Arena, becoming the top scorer in Euros history when he netted his 10th goal in the competition with a late penalty, which was followed by his 11th in stoppage time.

At 36 years, 130 days, Ronaldo became the oldest player to score for Portugal at a major tournament, breaking the record set by Pepe at World Cup 2018.

Ronaldo also becomes the oldest player to score at least two goals in a European Championship match, breaking the record set by Andriy Schevchenko when he was 35 years, 256 days.

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Without a doubt, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world.

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