Cristiano Ronaldo has been released from the Portugal squad after firing them to World Cup qualifier victory over the Republic of Ireland in dramatic fashion.
The 36-year-old scored a world record 110th international goal to cancel out John Egan’s opener with just a minute remaining. He then completed the job with his 111th in stoppage time to seal a 2-1 win at at the Estadio Algarve on Wednesday.
However, after removing his shirt in celebration, he was cautioned by Slovenian referee Matej Jug. And having been booked earlier in the campaign, is suspended for Tuesday night’s trip to Azerbaijan.
A statement on the Portuguese Football Federation’s official website said: “Cristiano Ronaldo was excused from the stage of the national team this Thursday.
“The yellow card seen against Ireland, being the second in this stage of qualification, forces him to fulfil an official game of suspension, which will happen against Azerbaijan.”
Ronaldo’s release means he will also not feature in Saturday’s friendly against World Cup hosts Qatar in Hungary, although there is no indication as yet as to when he will join up with Manchester United after signing for the club for a second time earlier this week.
The 36-year-old left the camp having dedicated his record number of international goals to his nation.
Ronaldo said: “I’m very happy for the two goals and the record. But especially for the team to believe until the end.
“It’s motivation and the desire I have to continue playing football. If we get up every day wanting to do our best and give ourselves joy, we have great motivation.
“This record is mine and unique. I was missing a goal and I scored two, I’m extremely happy. I dedicate it to all Portuguese and the entire team. We had to suffer until the end.”
It had proved something of a frustrating night for Ronaldo, whose 15th-minute spot-kick was brilliantly saved by 19-year-old keeper Gavin Bazunu. Ireland’s well-organised defence frustrated Portugal for long periods. Particularly after John Egan had headed them in front on the stroke of half-time.
But as time ran down, he finally made his inevitable impact on the game. He headed home Goncalo Guedes’ 89th-minute cross to level. And then astonishingly repeated the feat at the death to cement Portugal’s place at the top of Group A.
Manchester City playmaker Bernardo Silva, who had passed up a glorious opportunity before Ronaldo struck for the first time, admitted he and his team-mates had plenty to work on after being given a fright in their own back yard.
Silva said: “We are happy for the victory, but there are many things to correct. We missed a lot of chances, we were unlucky – I missed a goal I can’t miss.
“In the end, there are three points and we are very happy.”