Football

Ronaldo: Let's win them all

Ronaldo knows there's no margin for error in a competitive Group B

GROUP B

PORTUGAL 6
(Cristiano Ronaldo 2, 4, 47, 68, 
Joao Cancelo 44, Andre Silva 86)

ANDORRA 0
Eight more wins.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his international return with four goals in a 6-0 mauling of hapless Andorra yesterday morning (Singapore time) and then demanded that Portugal step on the gas to seal a place in the 2018 World Cup.

The Real Madrid superstar took his Portugal career tally to 65 goals in 134 games, but the European champions are only third in Group B, a point behind minnows Faroe Islands and three back from leaders Switzerland.

Only the group winners are certain of making the Finals in Russia.

Yesterday morning, the Swiss followed their opening 2-0 win over the Portuguese with a last-gasp 3-2 triumph at Hungary while the Faroes beat Latvia 2-0 in Riga.

"We know that Switzerland and the Faroes won tonight and it will be necessary for us to beat them during qualification," said Ronaldo.

"There are eight games left and we want to win them all to reach the World Cup Finals."

Ronaldo was making his first appearance for Portugal since he was stretchered off injured while in tears in the Euro 2016 final, where his country beat France.

The 31-year-old opened his account after 73 seconds, driving the ball home after Andorra failed to clear a corner, and then headed home Ricardo Quaresma's cross in the fourth minute.

Jose Fonte was brilliantly denied by Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes, Andre Silva hit the bar and Ronaldo was close with another header before Joao Cancelo added a third in the 44th.

Ronaldo completed his hat-trick two minutes after half-time when he volleyed in Andre Gomes' cross and scored his fourth in the 68th after Fonte headed Quaresma's cross into his path.

Andre Silva added the sixth late on with a deflected shot.

Ronaldo scored his fourth hat-trick for his country and it was the first time he has scored four in an international.

"I know that I am an important player and I have always done my best since I started my international career," said the Portugal captain.

"I scored four goals tonight and obviously I am very happy to have come back after my serious injury in the Euros final.

"We knew that the first goal tonight would be very important because they are a team who defend with 11 players.

"Things went well. We scored twice in the first five minutes and the match became a lot easier."

Portugal will be in action again on Tuesday morning when they travel to the Faroes.

And Portugal coach Fernando Santos has told his men not to underestimate their opponents, who have collected four points from two games in Group B.

"We cannot forget the Faroe Islands have four points," said the 61-year-old.

"They have been with the same coach (Lars Olsen) for five years, already drew with Hungary and now won away (at Latvia).

However, Santos was happy enough with the performance as his team rebounded from their loss to Switzerland in their opening qualifier.

"We had two goals very quickly and we had everything to speed up the game and take advantage," he said.

"We fell asleep a little before the end of the first half and didn't do quite what we should have.

"In the second half, we came back well and scored goals and created many opportunities."

- Wire Services.

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