(Al Jazeera) Cristiano Ronaldo became has become the first men’s football player to make 200 international appearances and celebrated that milestone by scoring the winning goal in the 89th minute as Portugal beat Iceland 1-0 in a European Championship qualifier.
Ronaldo scored the only goal in the game on Tuesday against Iceland, who played with 10 men after Willum Willumsson was sent off with 10 minutes to go in the Euro 2024 qualifier.
Overtaking Kuwait forward Bader Al-Mutawa’s 196-cap record in March, the 38-year-old Ronaldo was honoured by Guinness World Records before kickoff on Tuesday for reaching 200 games for Portugal almost 20 years after he made his debut for the national side.
And he was celebrating at the end of the match, too, after being on hand to score the later winner against Iceland from close range to keep Portugal on track for Euro 2024 qualification with the Portuguese team’s fourth win from four games in Group J.
Marking his 200th cap, the Portugal team’s official Twitter account featured the message: “How it started. How it’s going”, above a picture of a young Ronaldo playing in an early appearance for Portugal alongside a photo of a jubilant Ronaldo during Tuesday’s game.
Ronaldo also padded his record for international goals on Tuesday by netting his 123rd for Portugal – making it another memorable night for the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star.
Ronaldo said he was “very proud” to complete 200 games for Portugal.
“So happy. It’s that kind of moment that you never expect to do it, 200 caps. For me it’s an unbelievable achievement,” Ronaldo told UEFA’s website. “Of course, to score the winning goal, it’s even more special.”
Asked about the most special game among the 199 played so far, Ronaldo could not choose just one.
“It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve had so many beautiful moments. The Euro 2016, the Nations League, but there are some many beautiful moments, and that’s why I prefer to say the next game is the best one,” he said.
Ronaldo’s teammates Rafael Leao and Bruno Fernandes had looked more likely to provide an opening in the match in Reykjavik, until Iceland midfielder Willum Willumsson was sent off with 10 minutes of normal time remaining for a second yellow card.
Ronaldo had missed several chances and was booked for diving in the 83rd, before he finally got the winner when Goncalo Inacio headed the ball down for the forward to score from close range.
Even then there was an anxious wait for a Video assistant referee (VAR) check before Ronaldo could celebrate in his own distinctive style.
Midfielder Joao Moutinho is now the second-most capped male player for Portugal with 146 games, while defender Pepe is third with 133.