Cristiano Ronaldo earned a double to become the European Championship’s all-time leading scorer as Portugal struck three times late on to beat a stubborn Hungary 3-0 in their Euro 2020 opener at a packed Puskas Arena on Tuesday.
The holders, who appear to have a much stronger squad than when they won their first major title five years ago, labored for long periods in Budapest.
But Raphael Guerreiro made the vital breakthrough in the 84th minute and Ronaldo slammed in a penalty shortly afterward before tapping home in injury time.
The Juventus striker has now scored 11 goals in the tournament, two more than French great Michel Platini, who netted nine times when he led France to glory in 1984.
The 36-year-old is also just three goals away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.
Ronaldo chose by far the biggest crowd of the tournament to break the record in front of, with Budapest the only Euro 2020 venue not to limit fan capacity due to Covid-19.
The Puskas Arena has a capacity of almost 68,000 fans.
World Cup winners France and three-time European champions Germany meet in the other Group F game later in the day at Munich’s Allianz Arena.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos opted to play Liverpool forward Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva alongside Ronaldo ahead of Joao Felix.
It almost paid instant dividends, as Jota forced Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi into a smart save with a left-footed drive in the fourth minute, although he perhaps should have squared the ball for an unmarked Ronaldo.
Five minutes later, Jota, who was out injured for most of the latter stages of the club season, volleyed Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick over the crossbar.
Ronaldo created an opportunity for Bernardo Silva in the 28th minute by winning the ball back high up the pitch, only for the Manchester City winger to delay his shot too long and see the opening snuffed out by an excellent tackle from Hungary center-back Willi Orban.
Hungary offered very little from open play, although they sent Portugal a warning shortly before half-time when Adam Szalai headed a free-kick too close to Rui Patricio.
CREDIT: THE PUNCH