Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal: Ronaldo puts Serbia frustration behind him in comeback win

By Sports Desk March 30, 2021

Cristiano Ronaldo edged closer to Ali Daei's international goals record as he opened his account for the World Cup qualifying campaign in Portugal's 3-1 comeback win over Luxembourg.

Ronaldo had a last-gasp winner disallowed against Serbia on Saturday, but the Juventus star had no need to throw his captain's armband to the floor in anger this time around, nudging home to make it 2-1 to Portugal five minutes into the second half.

Fresh from his goal in Luxembourg's victory over the Republic of Ireland, Gerson Rodrigues had put the minnows – who had Maxime Chanot sent off late on – ahead with a smart header.

Diogo Jota levelled proceedings on the cusp of half-time to pave the way for Ronaldo's 103rd international goal and Joao Palhinha's header to send Portugal top of Group A.

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  • Rumour Has It: Atletico Madrid set asking price for Joao Felix at €100million Rumour Has It: Atletico Madrid set asking price for Joao Felix at €100million

    Atletico Madrid are reportedly ready to part ways with their club-record signing, setting a €100million asking price for Portuguese forward Joao Felix.

    Felix, 23, was purchased from Benfica back in 2019 for a fee of €126m – shattering their transfer record by more than €50m.

    He helped Atletico to a LaLiga title in the 2020-21 season, before being named the club's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign, but he has now fallen out of favour, starting just five of his side's 14 league games.

    Felix has been able to put himself in the shop window during his two starts to begin Portugal's World Cup group stage, including a goal against Ghana, and now Champions League contenders are expected to come calling in January.

     

    TOP STORY – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN NAMED AS ONE OF THREE SUITORS FOR FELIX

    Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been named the main interested parties by Spanish publication AS.

    The report states Felix's relationship with head coach Diego Simeone has become too strained to continue persisting, and includes a claim that Atletico rejected a €130m offer from United before the season.

    With his contract tying him to the club until 2026, there will be no need to settle for an offer deemed unsatisfactory, but AS believes anything approaching that €100m figure – including bonuses – will be enough to get a deal done.

     

    ROUND-UP

    – Sport is reporting Barcelona view 32-year-old Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as a potential replacement for Sergio Busquets when the German international's contract expires after the season.

    – According to Express, Saudi Arabian clubs Al Hilal and Al-Nassr are considered the leading candidates to fight it out for ex-United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Paris Saint-Germain will offer Lionel Messi a new contract at the conclusion of the World Cup, according to Goal.

    Chelsea and Newcastle United are competing to land 18-year-old Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, per 90min.

    – Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting Milan would like to bring in Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech on a loan deal with the option to make it permanent, but the Moroccan's contract demands could be too expensive.

  • Kimmich: Germany's World Cup exit 'the most difficult day of my career' Kimmich: Germany's World Cup exit 'the most difficult day of my career'

    Joshua Kimmich described Germany's humiliating World Cup exit as the worst moment of his career as Japan and Spain progressed following a dramatic Group E finale on Thursday.

    Germany began their final fixture against Costa Rica knowing a win would likely take them into the last 16 if Japan failed to beat Spain, and Hansi Flick's men held up their end of the bargain with a 4-2 victory.

    However, Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka scored as Japan staged a remarkable comeback to beat La Roja, ensuring they emerged as surprise group winners and ending Germany's bid for a fifth World Cup triumph.

    Germany have now failed to progress beyond the group stage at consecutive World Cups after doing so on each of their previous 16 appearances at the tournament, leaving Kimmich devastated.

    "For me personally, this is the worst day of my career. I'm afraid I'll fall into a hole," Kimmich told reporters. "It makes you think these failures are connected to my person.

    "This is definitely the most difficult day of my career for me. The second time being eliminated at a World Cup, in between we had the Euros, where we were eliminated early. 

    "That is bitter and there have been many missed opportunities within the last four years."

    Germany reached the semi-finals of Kimmich's first major tournament at Euro 2016, but they have since fallen at the first hurdle at two World Cups and suffered a last-16 defeat to England at Euro 2020.

    Costa Rica briefly took a surprise lead when Manuel Neuer put through his own net with 20 minutes remaining on Thursday, and Germany have now gone 12 major tournament games without a clean sheet (World Cup/Euros) – their longest ever streak.

    Kimmich's fellow midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hit out at Die Nationalmannschaft's defending as he called on his team-mates to reflect on their shortcomings.

    "We concede goals too easily, we lose balls too easily and up front we miss goalscoring chances too easily," Gundogan said.

    "Of course, as Germany, we have to have different aspirations, so we have to take a good look at ourselves. 

    "We just didn't manage to do our best as a group, or maybe individually. We have to question what the reasons were and everyone has to look in the mirror and tell themselves that it wasn't enough."

  • Costa Rica 2-4 Germany: Flick's men and Los Ticos crash out following six-goal thriller Costa Rica 2-4 Germany: Flick's men and Los Ticos crash out following six-goal thriller

    Kai Havertz scored twice but Germany made another early World Cup exit despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 in a thriller at Al Bayt Stadium on Thursday.

    Needing a victory to have any chance of reaching the round of 16, Germany secured their first win of the tournament but bow out at the group stage for a second successive World Cup.

    Serge Gnabry gave them a richly deserved early lead, but Yeltsin Tejeda equalised with his first international goal in the second half and Costa Rica were heading for the knockout stage after Juan Pablo Vargas put them in front.

    Havertz levelled not long after Vargas' goal and struck again to put Germany back in front, with fellow substitute Niclas Fullkrug then adding a late fourth goal 

    It was Japan and Spain who advance from Group E, though, with the Samurai Blue finishing top after their surprise 2-1 win over Luis Enrique's side.

    Gnabry opened the scoring only 10 minutes in, meeting David Raum's cross from the left with a glancing header that found the far corner of the net.

    Leon Goretzka's header was kept out by Keylor Navas, Musiala fired wide after turning sharply and surging into the box and Gnabry was only just off target with a right-foot drive as Germany continued to dominate.

    But Keysher Fuller almost equalised from out of the blue late in the first half, Manuel Neuer superbly tipping his shot around the post after a mistake from Antonio Rudiger.

    News of Japan leading Spain left Germany fans with hands on heads and things took another turn for the worse when Tejeda was on hand to finish from close range after Neuer could only palm Kendall Waston's header into his path in the 58th minute.

    Musiala twice struck the right-hand post and Rudiger hit the outside of the same upright as Germany desperately tried to stay alive.

    Costa Rica then stunned Germany once again by taking the lead after 70 minutes, Vargas getting the final touch when Neuer as Germany failed to deal with a ball into the box.

    Los Ticos' joy was short-lived, though, as Havertz finished clinically with his right foot soon after coming off the bench just a few minutes after Germany had fallen behind.

    Navas denied Fullkrug with a magnificent save from close range, but Havertz tucked in coolly with his left foot at the back post.

    Fullkrug looked to have strayed offside, but was awarded a second goal in as many games in the closing stages following a VAR check after he slotted in from close range, but Germany bowed out on goal difference.

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