Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's best player and is always hungry for more, Portugal team-mate Mario Rui said.

Ronaldo inspired Portugal to a 6-0 thrashing of Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Thursday, scoring a hat-trick in the Group B win.

Mario Rui lauded his 34-year-old team-mate after Portugal moved a step closer to qualifying for next year's showpiece tournament.

"He is the best in the world, never tired of winning, wanting more, and it is this hunger that makes him what he is," the Napoli left-back said, via A Bola.

"We are happy to have him on the team and I hope he will continue to give us joy as he has done so far."

Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva also scored for Portugal, who are second in the group on 14 points, behind Ukraine (19) but ahead of Serbia (13).

Portugal can secure their place when they visit Luxembourg on Sunday and Mario Rui said a tough task awaited his side.

"Mathematically, we know it is not [guaranteed] yet," he said. "We will face a tough team, Luxembourg, we still had that confirmation with the result in Serbia [who won 3-2].

"We know it will be a very difficult game, but our goal is to be at Euro 2020 and we will try to bring all three points to Portugal."

Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness was never a doubt for Portugal coach Fernando Santos as the star forward scored a hat-trick in Thursday's 6-0 victory over Lithuania.

Ronaldo was far from a certain starter for the Euro 2020 qualifier at Estadio Algarve after being substituted in Juventus' last two matches.

Juve boss Maurizio Sarri attributed the early withdrawal against Milan last weekend to a bruised knee, but the 34-year-old played 83 minutes against Lithuania and showed no signs of fatigue.

Asked how Ronaldo was feeling when substituted late on, Santos told RTP: "He's fine. I had no doubt about that, as I said before the match. Other people did, but I didn't have any doubts."

Ronaldo opened the scoring early on from a penalty he won and curled in a second prior to half-time, before completing his hat-trick 25 minutes from the end. 

Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes was full of praise for his team-mate, who is now up to 98 goals for the reigning European champions.

"What we have is a very motivated Cristiano, who always gives his best," Fernandes said. "He scored three times, which is normal for him."

Pizzi, Goncalo Paciencia and Bernardo Silva were also on target for Portugal, who can seal second place in Group B if they beat Luxembourg in their final qualifier on Sunday.

Santos felt his side could have scored more than twice in the first half, but was ultimately pleased with the resounding scoreline following last month's 2-1 loss to Ukraine.

"The players stuck to the plan," he said. "We played very well in the first half, with lots of variety to our game and plenty of control. 

"At the break we could have had more goals. But after scoring the fourth we could afford to rest ready for the next game.

"We'll try to beat Luxembourg in the same manner, but we have less than 72 hours to recover so we'll see."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Portugal saw off Lithuania 6-0 to get back on track in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020.

Juventus forward Ronaldo was a surprise starter after being substituted before the hour in his club's last Serie A outing against AC Milan, but he showed no signs of fatigue as he reached 98 goals for his country.

Portugal lost 2-1 to Ukraine last month but were comfortable winners at Estadio Algarve on Thursday, with Goncalo Paciencia, Pizzi and Bernardo Silva also on target for the hosts.

The reigning European champions remain second in Group B, a point better off than Serbia - 3-2 winners over Luxembourg - ahead of the final round of qualifying fixtures.

Lithuania lost 5-1 in the reverse fixture and, as was the case in Vilnius two months ago, Ronaldo opened the scoring with a seventh-minute penalty after being caught by Saulius Mikoliunas.

Visiting goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus did well to keep out Paciencia but Ronaldo had doubled his tally with 22 minutes gone, bending in a first-time shot from the edge of the box.

Ronaldo was denied the chance to score a first-half hat-trick by referee Ruddy Buquet, who initially pointed to the spot following a challenge on Ricardo Pereira, only to overturn his decision following a brief discussion with one of his assistants.

However, Fernando Santos' team made certain of the three points seven minutes into the second half through Pizzi's angled shot that went in via both the crossbar and the post.

Paciencia slotted home a fourth goal after Setkus fumbled Silva's cross and the Manchester City playmaker added another to the tally seven minutes later with a low finish.

Ronaldo completed his hat-trick with another curled finish, this time low into the net, though he missed a glorious chance to add another to his tally when firing over from in front of goal.

 

What does it mean? Holders remain on course

Portugal's defeat to Group B winners Ukraine last month - ending an unbeaten run that stretched back to the 2018 World Cup - left them in direct competition with Serbia for second spot.

Santos' men turned on the style in Faro, however, and will now be guaranteed a place in next year's finals with victory in Luxembourg this weekend. 

Ronaldo closing in on another milestone

Ronaldo's consolation goal in Kiev four weeks ago saw him reach 700 for club and country. After his latest international hat-trick, he is now within two of hitting a century for Portugal. So much for a fading force, right?

Setkus slip-up opens floodgates

Lithuania were 3-0 down when Setkus parried a simple cross from Silva, gifting Paciencia a simple finish. The visiting keeper did not look comfortable all game and perhaps could have done better to keep out one of the five other goals, too.

What's next?

Portugal travel to Luxembourg for their final Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday, while Lithuania - who finish bottom of Group B with just a point - host New Zealand in a friendly on the same day.

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