Portugal escapes in Luxembourg
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (L) kicks the ball past Luxembourg’s Mathias Janish (R)
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg ● Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored and celebrated as his side recovered from an early scare in Luxembourg to start their World Cup Group F qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win on Friday.
A fifth of Luxembourg’s population is Portuguese and many turned up in the 8,000-strong crowd at the compact Josy Barthel stadium but they were stunned when a Portuguese-born Luxembourgian Daniel da Mota punished a clumsy start by the favourites to put the hosts ahead with a fierce drive after 13 minutes.
Ronaldo, who hit the headlines after failing to celebrate two league goals last weekend for Real Madrid and telling reporters he was “sad”, levelled 15 minutes later.
The Portuguese captain slotted in an easy goal and greeted team mates with a clenched fist, celebrating the equaliser not too exuberantly but apparently happy.
The visitors kept pressing on and were too strong for Luxembourg who succumbed to a coolly-taken drive by Helder Postiga in the 54th minute.
Portugal, also drawn with Russia, Israel and Northern Ireland in Group F, host Azerbaijan in Braga next Tuesday.