Cristiano Ronaldo’s 9th international hatrick helped Portugal moved one step closer to qualifying for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament on Thursday with a 6-0 win over Lithuania.
The Juventus man opened the scoring from the penalty spot early and curled home a stunning second goal after 22 minutes.
Lithuania collapsed after the break, with Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia, Bernardo Silva and Ronaldo netting.
Luxembourg couldn’t beat Serbia in the other Group B match, meaning Portugal have yet to clinch their spot at Euro 2020. Both teams have one match remaining, but Portugal have the one-point advantage.
Portugal started with plenty of attacking intentions and nearly took the lead after five minutes, when Ronaldo powered a header narrowly over the cross bar.
It was just a stay of execution, however, with the captain winning a penalty for himself during the very next attack. The Juventus ace blasted the ball down the middle, opening the score despite a touch from the goalkeeper
The European champions had no intention of sitting back and continued to prod for more goals. Paciencia had an excellent header saved by goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus, and the striker went close again minutes later, this time having his dangerous shot blocked.
Paciencia had better luck as a passer, setting up Ronaldo for his second goal midway through the half.
The 34-year-old took the through-ball and deposited it into the top corner, moving even closer to the all-time record for most international goals
He almost turned provider just before the half-hour mark, but Paciencia continued to struggle with his aim, sending his volley over the bar.
The pace of the contest dropped as half-time drew near, with Ronaldo finding space for a late shot, aiming wide.
The short break worked wonders for the hosts, who scored two quick goals early in the second half to put away Lithuania for good.
First, Bruno Fernandes set up Pizzi with an excellent pass, and a lucky deflection took the ball past Setkus. Five minutes later, Paciencia finally got his goal, taking advantage of a handling errors from the goalkeeper to convert from close range.
And the floodgates opened completely after that. Ricardo Pereira set up Silva to make it 5-0, before Ronaldo got his hat-trick, taking a cut-back from Silva and firing home.
Paciencia came close to adding a seventh goal, but Setkus made a vital save on his powerful header. Ronaldo also could have added to his tally, but his aim was off after strong work from Paciencia.
Setkus made a wonderful double-save to keep out Bruma and the resulting deflection, his final major contribution in the one-sided affair. Portugal easily saw out the match, but with Serbia beating Luxembourg, have still not officially qualified for Euro 2020.
A win over Luxembourg will suffice on Saturday, regardless of the result of the match between Serbia and Ukraine.