Alan Browne's late header salvaged a 2-2 friendly draw for the Republic of Ireland against an understrength Belgium at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. 

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez opted not to pick any players with more than 50 caps during this international break, meaning Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Yannick Carrasco and Thibaut Courtois were all left out.  

Michy Batshuayi took advantage of the opportunity he was given with a great early goal, but Chiedozie Ogbene teed himself up for an overhead kick to equalise before half-time.  

Hans Vanaken restored Belgium's advantage but substitute Browne powered in an 85th-minute header to secure a draw for Ireland in their centenary game. 

Batshuayi fired Belgium into a 12th-minute lead when he cut inside of Seamus Coleman and curled a fine finish into the bottom-right corner from the left of the box.  

The visitors struggled to create further chances despite controlling possession and their advantage vanished after Callum Robinson's cross was not dealt with and Ogbene converted an acrobatic finish.  

Ireland would have moved in front two minutes after the restart were it not for a goal-line block from Jason Denayer to stop Robinson flicking James McClean's strike home.  

Shane Duffy did well to deflect a shot from Batshuayi wide but the resulting corner was nodded in by Vanaken with the help of a deflection off Coleman. 

Belgium were unable to see out just a second win in five matches, though, as Browne's powerful header gave the Ireland fans late reason to cheer.
 

What does it mean? Experienced hands show their worth  

While Martinez selected a number of younger players in his squad, it was two of the more experienced picks that took their chance to impress.  

Batshuayi netted his 23rd international goal while Vanaken, who will be 30 by the time the World Cup comes around, showed he can provide valuable depth by setting up the opener before scoring himself.  

Ogbene on form

Although some of the shine of his overhead kick was taken off by a deflection off Denayer, Ogbene's incredible ingenuity was undeniable. He also supplied a brilliant delivery for Browne's equaliser.

Coleman caught short  

Ireland captain Coleman was disappointing in the centre of defence. He let Batshuayi by too easily on the opener and sent Vanaken's header into the back of the net.  

What's next?  

Belgium entertain Burkina Faso in another friendly on Tuesday, while Ireland are in action against Lithuania. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dismissed the notion of Russia hosting Euro 2028 as "beyond satire", instead suggesting the tournament be awarded to Ukraine.

Russia launched a bid for either Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 on Wednesday, despite the country's ongoing invasion of their Eastern European neighbour.

That puts the 2018 World Cup hosts against a joint United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland bid for the former, an Italy bid for the latter and a Turkey bid for either event.

"The idea of Russia holding any idea of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire," Johnson said in Brussels, where a Nato summit addressing Vladimir Putin's invasion is taking place.

"I can’t believe that anybody would seriously consider their suggestion."

Johnson appeared to forget that his own country had bid for Euro 2028 when he subsequently suggested the best path would be to hand it to Ukraine, who jointly hosted Euro 2012 with Poland.

"I think the best thing possible would be for the entire Russian forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and hand the tournament to them," Johnson added.

Last year's rearranged Pan-European edition saw Italy triumph over England in a penalty shoot-out final at Wembley Stadium.

Hosts will be confirmed for 2028 and 2032 in September 2023, ahead of the next edition in Germany in 2024.

UEFA has confirmed it received declarations of interest from four potential bidders for hosting rights to Euro 2028 and Euro 2032.

The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland launched a joint-bid for Euro 2028 earlier on Wednesday, while a Russian official remarkably confirmed its own interest in holding either of the two tournaments.

Russia's teams are currently banned from UEFA and FIFA competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine, but the 2018 World Cup hosts pushed ahead regardless.

Turkey has joined Russia in announcing to UEFA its willingness to stage the European Championship in either 2028 or 2032.

While the two countries are up against the UK and Ireland in the first of the two finals, Italy is the other interested party four years later.

The hosts of the two tournaments will be announced in September 2023.

The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland have dropped plans to stage World Cup 2030 and will instead focus on a bid for Euro 2028.

A joint announcement from the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic confirmed the decision following "an extensive feasibility study".

The committee chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Julian Knight, had previously derided the World Cup bid as a "giant, expensive vanity project".

The joint statement on Monday confirmed: "The feasibility study included an analysis of the economic impact, the political football landscape and likely costs of hosting major international tournaments. On balance, the five associations have decided to focus solely on an official bid to host UEFA Euro 2028, and have agreed not to bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

"Hosting a UEFA Euro offers a similar return on investment, with the European tournament carrying a far lower delivery cost and the potential of the benefits being realised sooner.

"It would be an honour and a privilege to collectively host UEFA Euro 2028 and to welcome all of Europe. It would also be a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the true impact of hosting a world-class football tournament by driving positive change and leaving a lasting legacy across our communities.

"We believe the UK and the Republic of Ireland can offer UEFA and European football something special in 2028 – a compact and unique five-way hosting collaboration that will provide a great experience for the teams and the fans."

England, which last hosted a major tournament when it staged the Euros in 1996, failed in a bid for the 2018 World Cup, which took place in Russia.

London and Glasgow were among the host cities for Euro 2020, with the semi-finals and final taking place at Wembley Stadium.

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos insisted there was little difference between a win and a draw against the Republic of Ireland as World Cup qualifying would still be decided against Serbia.

Santos' side were held to a goalless draw in Thursday's clash with Ireland, who have just one win to their name in World Cup qualifying.

The Euro 2016 winners had previously embarked on a five-game winning run across all competitions, scoring 16 times, but could manage just three shots on target in Dublin.

The stalemate leaves Portugal and Serbia both on 17 points with one game remaining and the top two will meet in Lisbon on Sunday in Group A's winner-takes-all decider.

Asked if he was happy with the result, Santos told RT3: "Naturally. In terms of qualification, winning 5-0 or drawing here was the same thing.

"Of course, I would have preferred to win 5-0, but the result is positive. Serbia have to play in our stadium to win the game.

"Obviously we wanted to win, we didn't want to draw, that's not what we came here for. They're a very aggressive and very physical opponent.

"In the attacking organisation, we let them create danger. The players tried but we always had difficulties – they were quick to close spaces."

Santos, who insisted he was "convinced" Portugal would still qualify, left out the likes of Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo for the visit to the Republic of Ireland.

He will also be without Pepe against Serbia after the centre-back was dismissed late on for two bookable offences.

Asked for clarification whether he had spared players to avoid yellow-card accumulated suspensions, Santos added: "I saved them because you never know if the players are conditioned or not.

"I wanted to have Pepe for the game, but I'm going to sleep well. We'll find the right players [for the Serbia game]."

Portugal were held to a goalless draw by the Republic of Ireland to leave Sunday's clash with Serbia as the decider for top spot in World Cup qualifying Group A.

Fernando Santos' men had scored 16 goals during their five-game winning streak across all competitions but could only muster two shots on target during a frustrating outing in Dublin.

Cristiano Ronaldo went the closest, though even the all-time leading scorer in men's international football could not break the deadlock in Thursday's clash.

The visitors, who saw Pepe dismissed late on for two bookable offences, and Serbia both sit on 17 points with one game remaining as the latter travel to Lisbon for a winner-takes-all decider.

Andre Silva forced the first save of the contest from Gavin Bazunu before Seamus Coleman's excellent last-ditch block denied Ronaldo as the visitors dominated the early proceedings.

However, the Republic of Ireland responded well and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time but Chiedozie Ogbene could only head over from close range.

Stephen Kenny's men continued industriously after the interval and almost punished Matheus Nunes' concentration lapse when Josh Cullen curled into Rui Patricio's hands.

Ronaldo, who later fired narrowly off target, then nodded wide following Silva's cross before the hosts saw Enda Stevens whip over from Ogbene's inviting delivery.

The visitors, who had Pepe dismissed for a second bookable offence after catching Callum Robinson with his hand, managed to hold on for a point despite the hosts thinking they had found a late winner through Matt Doherty, Will Keane's foul on Patricio cutting short the celebrations.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been granted an early release from the Portugal squad, meaning he has time to rest before a second Manchester United debut. 

Portugal captain Ronaldo made history on Wednesday when he became the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football, with the first of his double in a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland taking him clear of Iran great Ali Daei's haul of 109 goals. 

The 36-year-old's milestone effort was an 89th-minute header and he followed it up with a dramatic winner deep into stoppage time, removing his shirt as he celebrated completing a turnaround 2-1 success. 

Ronaldo was consequently shown a yellow card that ruled him out of Tuesday’s trip to Azerbaijan through suspension. 

With a friendly against Qatar on Saturday being Portugal's only other fixture during the international break, he was allowed to leave the camp early. 

"Cristiano Ronaldo was released from the national team camp this Thursday," read a statement from the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). 

"The yellow card received against Ireland, being his second in this stage of qualification, made him suspended for one official game, which will come against Azerbaijan. 

"This morning, the Portugal captain was part of the group of players who carried out recovery work at the hotel. 

"Fernando Santos also directed a training session in the morning on a pitch next to the hotel used by the national team during their stay in the Algarve." 

Ronaldo completed a return to United from Juventus this week and could be in line to make his first appearance for the Red Devils in 12 years at home against Newcastle United on September 11. 

Cristiano Ronaldo believes he is physically capable of playing at the highest level for another five years after making history with Portugal on Wednesday. 

The 36-year-old sent another record tumbling at the Estadio Algarve by becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football, surpassing Ali Daei’s previous high of 109. 

Ronaldo scored a pair of late headers to bring Portugal from behind in a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland and secure a 2-1 win, taking his tally for his country to 111 goals in the process. 

Despite turning 37 later this season, Ronaldo, who completed a return to Manchester United from Juventus this week, still believes he can continue to shine into his 40s. 

"I don't know what records are left. But what I want the most is to keep playing. I feel motivated and still have the strength to be able to put on a show for another three, four, five years," Ronaldo told Sport TV. 

He added to TNT Brasil: "It was a record I really wanted to break. After missing the penalty, I was a little sad for 10 minutes. But that's what football is about. We have to believe until the end. 

"The fans helped us a lot but the work of the team that believed prevails in the end."

Ronaldo was shown a yellow card for removing his shirt when celebrating his second goal, which came in the 96th minute, and will consequently miss Tuesday's meeting with Azerbaijan through suspension. 

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner failed to convert a first-half penalty and admitted the ban looming over him had slipped his mind as he wheeled away to celebrate at the end of an historic outing. 

"I forgot. It's the emotion of the game," said Ronaldo. "Maybe the coach will give me a hard time, but it doesn't matter. The important thing was to help the team. I’m sorry, but the emotions speak louder."

Portugal are scheduled to take on Qatar in a friendly on Saturday and Fernando Santos could decide to release Ronaldo from the team early due to his suspension. 

"We'll decide whether Ronaldo stays or leave. We have 24, 25 players. He won't go to Azerbaijan, it doesn't make sense," said Santos, who compared the United attacker to another Portugal great in an interview with RTP after the match. 

He said: "Ronaldo has always done this. Great players I like that when games sometimes don't seem to be going well. 

"Many years ago there was a coach called Jimmy Hagan [the Benfica boss when Santos was a youth player there]. I once asked him 'Why doesn't Eusebio go off when he isn't playing well?'

"And then when he's needed, where was Eusebio? This is what the great players do. They may not be doing well, but they show up with everything they have and solve games."

Cristiano Ronaldo declared that surpassing Ali Daei as the most prolific player in men's international football is "another record for the museum".

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner drew level with Iran great on 109 international goals during Euro 2020 but had to wait until Wednesday to make top spot his own. 

After seeing a first-half penalty saved in the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland at the Estadio Algarve, Ronaldo restored parity with his landmark goal in the 89th minute. 

The Portugal captain then steered home a header deep in second-half stoppage time to complete a 2-1 turnaround win for the hosts. 

"It's another record for the museum," Ronaldo told RTP, as quoted by Diario Record. 

"I don't know if anyone has more records than me, but this is mine and it's unique. I'm extremely happy. 

"The secret is the motivation and the desire to continue playing football. It's getting up every day with a desire to do better, to make the fans, the family, my children happy. 

"I dedicate it to all Portuguese people, to the team, to my family."

John Egan put Ireland ahead on the stroke of half-time after 19-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made Ronaldo wait for his crowning moment by keeping out his spot-kick. 

But the 36-year-old was not to be denied and guided in two headers in the space of seven minutes to make history.

"The team believed until the end. I believed until the end," said Ronaldo. 

"Ten minutes from the end, I asked for the support of the fans because when you're playing at home and the team are not combining on the pitch, the help of the fans is essential. They gave us strength. 

"I'm happy to score two goals, very happy to break the record, but the most important thing was the team."

Ronaldo was making his first appearance since his return to Manchester United from Juventus was confirmed, and he is looking forward to getting back to Old Trafford.

"I am very happy to be returning home, to a club I've always loved," he added. "I have a few more years left in my career and I still want to shine and get back to the best football, which is in the Premier League."

Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer in the history of men's international football as his late double saw Portugal beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in World Cup qualifying Group A.

The 36-year-old, who completed a remarkable return to Manchester United this week, had earlier missed the chance to pull clear of Iran icon Ali Daei when his penalty was saved by Gavin Bazunu.

Stephen Kenny's side looked like they would take full advantage of that reprieve after John Egan put them ahead shortly before half-time.

As is so often the case, though, Ronaldo had the final say, drawing his side level with an 89th-minute header – his record-breaking 110th international goal – before sealing a memorable win in the dying embers of stoppage time with another trademark headed finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo is now the leading goalscorer in the history of men's international football after breaking Ali Daei's world record. 

The Portugal star, who completed a stunning return to Manchester United this week, scored late on in Wednesday's World Cup qualifying clash against the Republic of Ireland to bring up his 110th international goal. 

Ronaldo's record-breaking goal came in the final minute of normal time. Moments after he saw a free-kick parried away by Gavin Buzunu, the 36-year-old was on hand to plant a trademark header into the bottom-left corner from Goncalo Guedes' teasing cross.

He scored twice in the Euro 2020 meeting with France on June 23 to match Daei on 109 goals in senior matches for Portugal. 

The 36-year-old, along with Iran great Daei, is one of only two men to score more than 100 times in international matches. 

 

He scored his first Portugal goal back in June 2004, heading in a Luis Figo cross in a 2-1 group-stage defeat to eventual European champions Greece.

Ronaldo's 100th goal came 16 years later when he scored a free-kick in a 2-0 Nations League win over Sweden in September last year.

His favourite opponents are Sweden and Lithuania, against whom he has scored seven times.

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