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AC MILAN LATE GOAL SINK ATLETICO AND KEEP LAST 16 HOPES ALIVE

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CRISTIANO RONALDO PROMISES MORE INTERNATIONAL GOALS AFTER SETTING RECORD

Cristiano Ronaldo is not yet satisfied with his international goalscoring exploits despite establishing himself as the most prolific marksman in the business with a late double to sink the Republic of Ireland.

The 36-year-old dragged Portugal back from the brink of World Cup qualifier defeat in Faro on Wednesday evening to serve notice of his enduring quality as he prepares to pull on a Manchester United shirt for the first time in 12 years.

His efforts secured a 2-1 Group A win at the Estadio Algarve and eased him passed former Iran striker Ali Daei’s tally of 109, which he equalled at the Euro 2020 finals, although he insisted afterwards he was in no mood to allow international defenders any respite.

Writing on his Instagram account, he said: “From all the records that I have broken during my career – and fortunately there have been a few – this one is very special for me and it’s certainly on the shelf of the achievements that make me truly proud.

“First of all, because every time I represent my country is a special moment, for knowing that I’m defending Portugal and showing to the world what Portuguese people are made of.

“Secondly, because national teams competitions have always had a very strong impact on me as I was growing up, watching my idols playing for their flags every other summer in Euros and in World Cups.

“But finally and above all, because scoring 111 goals for Portugal means 111 moments like the ones we experienced today in Algarve, moments of worldwide union and happiness for millions and millions of Portuguese citizens all around the Globe. For them, every sacrifice is worth it.

“Thank you Portugal. Thanks to all my team-mates and opponents for making this journey so unforgettable. Let’s keep meeting inside the pitch in the years to come! I’m not closing the count just yet.”

Ireland were within a minute of a famous victory courtesy of John Egan’s header on the stroke of half-time when Ronaldo struck for the first time, and looked set to emerge with a more than creditable point until he repeated the feat in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Manager Stephen Kenny said: “I thought that we were very very close to an historic victory. The players were really exceptional and I felt that in the first half, we controlled a good bit of the game

“Our first-half lead did not flatter us. The second half was tougher for us. They are a high quality team who played well in the second half. We defended heroically and had chances to go two up.

“But we could not quite get there. To lose as we did is devastating.”