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Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice for Portugal on world-record 197th cap - Euro 2024 Qualifiers round-up

Cristiano Ronaldo, who turned 38 last month, won his 197th cap against Liechtenstein, surpassing Kuwait's Bader Al-Mutawa, as he returned to the Portugal starting line-up and captained his country in their Euro 2024 Group J qualifier at the Jose Alvalade Stadium

Portugal eased to victory over Liechtenstein
Image: Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal eased to victory over Liechtenstein

Cristiano Ronaldo tucked away a penalty and slammed home a free-kick as he set a new record for the most international caps in Portugal's 4-0 win over Liechtenstein in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier.

Ronaldo celebrated his 197th cap, surpassing Kuwait's Bader Al-Mutawa, with a double as he returned to the starting line-up for their Group J qualifier at the Jose Alvalade Stadium.

He converted a 51st-minute penalty his first goal against the tiny Alpine principality as the home side went 3-0 up and added the fourth with a trademark free-kick that bent back the hands of visiting goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel.

Joao Cancelo had put Portugal into an eighth-minute lead with a long-range half-volley that took a slight deflection through a crowd of players, but Portugal were frustrated by solid defending from the visitors.

Seventy seconds into the second half, however, Bernardo Silva picked up a loose ball after Cancelo's progress to goal was halted and rifled home for a 2-0 lead.

Ronaldo, who turned 38 last month, tucked in a penalty after Cancelo had been brought down before his rasping free-kick in the 63rd minute extended his record for the most goals in international football to 120.

Cristiano Ronaldo scores his side's third goal
Image: Ronaldo scores Portugal's third goal

Earlier the Portugal captain, taken off in the 78th minute before he could bag a hat-trick, missed gilt-edged chances when he skied the ball in front of goal and glanced a header wide.

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Ronaldo had been benched by former coach Fernando Santos for Portugal's final two games at last year's World Cup in Qatar where they lost in the quarter-finals to Morocco.

Hojlund the hat-trick hero as Denmark beat Finland

Rasmus Hojlund celebrates his hat-trick
Image: Rasmus Hojlund celebrates his hat-trick for Denmark

Rasmus Hojlund netted a superb hat-trick as Denmark beat Finland 3-1 at the Parken Stadium to get their European Championship Group H qualifying campaign off to a winning start.

Already missing playmaker Christian Eriksen due to an ankle knock, the Danes lost defender Andreas Christensen to a leg injury in the 18th minute, but the home fans were celebrating three minutes later as Hojlund struck the opener.

Martin Braithwaite spread the ball down the right and into the path of full-back Alexander Bah, and his cross was met brilliantly by Hojlund, who deftly steered it home to give his side the lead.

Finland struck back eight minutes into the second half with a typically swift and decisive counter-attack, Teemu Pukki latching on to a flick-on before teeing up Oliver Antman to score.

Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky then took over for the Finns, pulling off a string of tremendous saves to deny Joakim Maehle, Mikkel Damsgaard and two efforts from Hojlund as the game looked to be heading for a draw.

However, the 20-year-old Hojlund bundled home a header from close range in the 82nd minute to put his side back in front and then rifled home a stoppage-time shot to complete his hat-trick in his third international appearance, wrapping up the three points for Denmark.

Kane breaks record as England win in Italy

Harry kane England Italy
Image: Harry Kane celebrates his landmark goal

Harry Kane became England's record international goalscorer as his side began their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign by beating reigning champions Italy 2-1 in Group C.

England's skipper struck a penalty past Italy 'keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma shortly before half-time to make it 2-0 after Declan Rice opened the scoring after 13 minutes.

Debutant Mateo Retegui halved the deficit in the 56th minute as the hosts responded but England held on to claim their first victory over Italy on Italian soil for 62 years despite having Luke Shaw sent off for receiving two yellow cards.

It proved to be the perfect response by England after the heartache of losing to France in the World Cup quarter-finals in December when Kane missed a crucial penalty.

This time he made no mistake after Giovanni Di Lorenzo was penalised for handball in the 42nd minute, finding the corner to take his England tally to 54, one more than Wayne Rooney.

Kane was also involved in England's opener as his blocked shot fell for Rice to convert to silence the majority of fans inside the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Italy, who beat England on penalties to win Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium but failed to qualify for the World Cup, were far more dangerous in the second half after Argentina-born Retegui smashed a low shot past Jordan Pickford.

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