BUDAPEST – Cristiano Ronaldo’s record-setting day came in front of the first packed crowd of this year’s European Championship.
The Portugal great set the record for most career goals at the tournament in the 87th minute from the penalty spot and then added another in injury time to give the defending champions a 3-0 victory over Hungary on Tuesday.
Ronaldo’s goals, however, weren’t the only interesting part of the game. On the fifth day of the Euro 2020 tournament, this was the first match played in a full stadium.
The 67,215-capacity Puskas Arena was packed with mostly Hungarian fans, and they made their presence known throughout the match. Hungary is the only one of the 10 countries hosting matches at the tournament to allow full crowds.
That gave Ronaldo plenty of witnesses to history.
“The important thing was to win," Ronaldo said. "It was a difficult game, against an opponent who defended very well, but we scored three goals, and I am very grateful to the team for helping me to score two goals.”
The Juventus forward was playing in his fifth European Championship, dating back to Euro 2004. He entered this year’s edition even with Michel Platini at nine goals, but that only lasted 87 minutes.
The 36-year-old Ronaldo also became the only player to score at five consecutive European Championships.
Ronaldo scored his first goal after Rafa Silva was fouled by Willi Orban in the area and the referee whistled for a penalty. Ronaldo, who had missed an easy chance near the end of the first half, shot to the right of goal and got his record.
The second came when he combined with Silva in front of goal and then skipped around Hungary keeper Peter Gulacsi before rolling the ball into an empty net with his left foot.
Ronaldo broke the scoring record at a stadium named after another great scorer, Ferenc Puskas. The Hungarian was arguably the finest finisher of the 1950s, scoring 84 goals in 85 games for his country. He also played for Real Madrid, just like Ronaldo once did.
He is also now only three behind former Iran striker Ali Daei’s men’s record of 109 international goals.
Portugal defender Raphael Guerreiro scored the opening goal three minutes before Ronaldo’s first with a shot that deflected off a defender and wrong-footed Gulacsi.
The fans made the most of their attendance and the resounding noise went up several levels when Hungary nearly took the lead in the 80th minute.
Substitute Szabolcs Schon cut inside from the right and planted a low shot into the corner of the net. But the goal was ruled out because Schon was offside when he ran onto the pass.
Hungary’s most vocal support congregated behind one of the goals and were relentless in their devotion.
“If we were able to play as well as they support us and cheer us on then I think we would probably win more matches,” Hungary coach Marco Rossi said through a translator. “But we gave it everything.”
Portugal’s red-shirted and flag-waving followers filled a small section behind where their goalkeeper started the match.
“It was amazing. Football without a crowd, I don’t even think I have an expression for that,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “But I need to thank the 4,000 Portugal fans who were here because I heard them more than anything else.”
Hungary will have the crowd again on Saturday against World Cup champion France, while Portugal heads to Munich to face Germany.
“It was essential to start on the right foot to give us confidence,” Ronaldo said. "Now it is necessary to continue like this and win the next game.”
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