Agent Jorge Mendes claims his client Cristiano Ronaldo "has never deserved the Ballon d'Or more" following his individual achievements at club and international level.

The Portugal star returned to Manchester United from Juventus after a successful year in terms of individual records, including becoming the all-time international top scorer while also finishing as the leading marksman in Serie A in 2020-21.

The veteran forward has continued to be prolific for United this term, scoring five goals in just six appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo was less successful on the team front as Juventus saw their grip on the Italian top-flight broken, finishing fourth, while also being knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16, and Portugal lost to Belgium at the same stage of the Euro 2020 finals.

However, Mendes feels the 36-year-old's remarkable personal achievements should make him the frontrunner for the coveted accolade.

"The numbers and statistics attached to Cristiano Ronaldo's name speak for themselves and should be enough for him to win another Ballon d'Or," Mendes told France Football.

"The absolutely remarkable total of 115 goals for the Portuguese national team makes him the record holder in the history of men's international football. This year he broke that 15-year-old record, to which he can add that of the top scorer in the history of professional football.

 

"All these achievements, which represent the greatest performance in football history, should be pivotal in awarding the trophy, as he continues to demonstrate that he is, without doubt, the best world football player of all time.

"It is true that this is an individual trophy, but let's not forget that Cristiano Ronaldo was the top scorer in the demanding Serie A and was also the top scorer in the last European Championship [making him the all-time top scorer in that competition].

"He holds the record for goals in the Champions League and is the only player in the world to have won everything in three different countries with maximum competitiveness, as was the case in England, Italy and Spain.

"All this at the age of 36, with an absolutely unique regularity, commitment and a phenomenal capacity to overcome difficulties. In my opinion, this year the Ballon d'Or has a name: Cristiano Ronaldo. For me, he has never deserved it more."

Ronaldo faces stern competition if he is to win a sixth Ballon d'Or, however, with Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski netting the most goals in all club competitions among players in Europe's top five leagues last season (48, 12 more than Ronaldo) and he has already managed 13 this term.

Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi also outscored the Portugal star in all club competitions last season, and Messi claimed an international trophy with Argentina as he won the Copa America, finishing the tournament as the top scorer and top assist provider.

Meanwhile, midfielder Jorginho is being tipped as a contender after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy.

Cristiano Ronaldo said he promised to "always be looking for more and more and more" after scoring another hat-trick in Portugal's World Cup qualifying rout of Luxembourg.

Ronaldo netted his 58th career hat-trick – his 10th for Portugal – as the Selecao eased past minnows Luxembourg 5-0 on Tuesday.

The five-time Ballon d'Or, 36, winner scored two penalties within five minutes early in the first half before completing the treble three minutes from the end of the match after Bruno Fernandes and Joao Palhinha had also found the back of the net.

Portugal are one point behind Group A leaders Serbia, though they have a game in hand, heading into next month's crucial showdown on the road to Qatar 2022.

Ronaldo – who extended his all-time men's international goals record to 115 – wrote via Instagram: "Another victory, another step towards our goal, another historic night in defence of our colours!

"Everything becomes easier when we play at home and in front of an audience that cares for us from the first to the last minute…

"I had promised that I would always be looking for more and more and more!

"It's in my DNA and in our DNA, we're never content, we never lower our arms and we always go."

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos jumped to the defence of his experienced side after they cruised past Luxembourg 5-0 in their World Cup qualifier thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo's 58th career hat-trick and 10th international treble put hosts Portugal out of sight at the Estadio Algarve, where Joao Palhinha and Bruno Fernandes also got on the scoresheet on Tuesday.

The five-goal crushing left Portugal a point behind Group A leaders Serbia, albeit with a game in hand, with two matches remaining and the top two teams meet on the final matchday, in what is likely to be a winner-takes-all decider.

However, Santos' focus after the game was on the age of his squad as he quashed suggestions that his veterans were likely to let him down again, after exiting both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage.

"I hear a lot about it [the age of the squad], I even understand, but more changes than what we have been done over the past six years are difficult," Santos told reporters during his post-match his news conference, with set to be 37 heading into next year's World Cup.

"Just look at who was at the World [Cup], the European Championship and who is playing now. There are no age restrictions, it doesn't even make sense.

"Players do not have to stop playing for the national team because they are of more or less age, quality is what counts. 

"Fortunately, we have a lot of 30-year-old or 31-year-old players able to get here and play and the players have shown that [quality]."

Portugal will have to wait until November's international break to seal their fate and Santos appreciates the decisive nature of the Serbia clash while imploring his side to still improve.

"We managed to restrain the opponent and take advantage of every situation to transform them into goalscoring opportunities," he told RTP after the game.

"We did very well until the 25th minute, with how we played and what we had seen from Luxembourg.

"After that we also did well, but we started to want to do everything in a hurry, in one touch, two touches, and we even allowed Luxembourg to get ahead.

"The last game will be decisive, whatever happens in the next round, neither team will be out, although I believe we will win [against the Republic of Ireland] – it will be decisive."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Portugal cruised past Luxembourg 5-0 in Tuesday's World Cup qualifying clash.

Ronaldo took just eight minutes to open the scoring at the Estadio Algarve as he finished from the penalty spot before doubling his tally soon after in the same fashion.

Bruno Fernandes netted a third inside a decisive opening 20 minutes before the Manchester United playmaker assisted Joao Palhinha for the fourth in the second half.

Ronaldo then secured his hat-trick with three minutes remaining to cap the hosts' dominant performance and ensure they remain a point behind Group A leaders Serbia – who have played a game more – ahead of the next international break.

Sebastien Thill and Anthony Moris were the guilty parties for the early penalties with fouls on Bernardo Silva and Ronaldo, the latter clinically converting both.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as Fernandes made it 3-0 despite Moris getting a hand to his right-footed drive following Silva's throughball after 17 minutes.

Ronaldo almost claimed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time but was denied by Moris, who also saved Silva's acrobatic volley.

Danel Sinani brought a rare save from Rui Patricio, with both Palhinha and Fernandes missing the target at the other end after being found by Nuno Mendes' searching deliveries.

Ronaldo's overhead-kick deserved to complete his treble, but Moris tipped over before Palhinha headed home from Fernandes' resulting corner.

Luxembourg almost grabbed a consolation goal through Gerson Rodrigues, but his left-footed strike was turned away by Patricio and Ronaldo completed the scoring as he headed in from Ruben Neves' deep cross.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota has been sent home with an injury and will miss Portugal's World Cup qualifying Group A clash against Luxembourg as a result.

Jota scored in his last game for his country, netting the third in a 3-0 victory against Azerbaijan last week, but Portugal head coach Fernando Santos is boosted by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the side.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a fine start to the season with Liverpool, notching three goals in seven Premier League appearances, only behind Mohamed Salah (six) and Sadio Mane (four) in the competition for the Reds.

Jota has taken fewer shots in the Premier League than his fellow Liverpool forwards, registering just 18 compared to Salah's 28 and Mane's 26, but the Portugal international has the second-highest shot conversion rate of the trio with 16.67 per cent, behind only Salah's 21.43 per cent.

It is unclear what the nature of Jota's injury is and how long he will be sidelined, with Liverpool's next game being away against Watford on October 16, while there is a trip to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League three days later.

In Jota's absence, Brazil forward Roberto Firmino could return to the starting line-up. The 30-year-old, who scored in the Reds' first game of the season against Norwich City, has only had one start and two shots in the Premier League this season.

As for Portugal, a win for Ronaldo and Co. would take them two points clear of Serbia at the top of their qualifying group with four games remaining.

Cristiano Ronaldo "is a player who really needs to play" insisted Portugal head coach Fernando Santos, who appeared to criticise Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao eased past Qatar 3-0 in Saturday's international friendly.

The all-time leading men's international scorer with 112, Ronaldo started and played 45 minutes after he was benched by United boss Solskjaer in the Premier League last week.

Ronaldo – who has scored against a record 46 nations for Portugal – was rested as Solskjaer opted to start Edinson Cavani before introducing the Portuguese superstar for the final 33 minutes in a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Everton.

After Portugal's routine win, Santos seemingly aimed a subtle dig at Solskjaer in Ronaldo's historic 181st international appearance.

"It was important to give him some playing time and I understood that it would be better to give him 45 minutes," Santos said post-match.

"Ronaldo is a player who really needs to play, to have contact with the ball. Training is not the same thing. In the last match, he had played 20 minutes [it was 33 minutes]."

Ronaldo has hit the ground running in his second stint with United, the 36-year-old having returned from Juventus before the end of the transfer window.

Named September's Player of the Month in the Premier League, Ronaldo has scored five goals for United, including three in the Premier League.

Ronaldo has outperformed his expected goals (xG – 1.03), expected goals on target (xGOT – 0.9) and goals (0.89) – all three topping the Premier League list.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for the ninth time in seven Portugal appearances as the Selecao cruised to a straightforward 3-0 friendly win over Qatar on Saturday.

With Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup in 13 months' time, this was another opportunity for them to test themselves against higher-quality opposition, but they were outclassed by a Portugal side who hardly got out of second gear.

Ronaldo capitalised on a defensive error to put Portugal 1-0 in front late in the first half, with the hosts having created numerous chances beforehand.

Jose Fonte's first ever international goal and an Andre Silva header then sealed the win for Portugal in the second period, with Qatar – who could only muster a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg last time out – offering no threat to Diogo Costa in the home side's net.

Portugal peppered the Qatar goal in the first half but were initially rather wasteful.

Silva smashed an effort into the face of Saad Al Sheeb when one-on-one in the 12th minute, though the goalkeeper knew a little more about his save soon after to deny Goncalo Guedes at the end of a bursting solo run.

Ronaldo was then guilty of slicing wide from 10 yards after reaching Diogo Dalot's cross, but he was on hand to tap in when a defender failed to clear a header across goal from his Manchester United team-mate.

Al Sheeb was drawn into a necessary save to keep out Danilo Pereira's header two minutes after the interval, but he parried the ball right to Fonte, who slammed in from close range.

A host of substitutions saw Portugal's tempo drop even further – not that it mattered. They still looked infinitely more dangerous as Silva continued to keep the Qatar defence and goalkeeper busy.

The forward did eventually find the net, meeting a wonderful cross from debutant substitute Rafael Leao – who had previous hit the crossbar and post – with a stooping header that wrapped up a simple victory.

What does it mean? Fernando Santos learns precious little

The objective of this friendly from Portugal's perspective was presumably just to keep players sharp ahead of next week's competitive action. Other than that, it is difficult to see what benefit this game was to the Selecao.

The gulf in quality was massive, far greater than the scoreline ultimately suggested, which probably is not a particularly encouraging thought for a Qatar side who will be keen not to be embarrassed as World Cup hosts next year.

Dalot stakes his claim

While the quality of the opposition may not have been great, Dalot certainly did his chances of earning a regular spot no harm with his performance on either flank. His five chances created were not bettered by anyone on the pitch, while he also played the pass that led to Ronaldo's opener.

Silva gets reward for persistence

Silva's overall display was good, with the RB Leipzig striker a regular threat to the Qatar goal, though he was quite wasteful. He had six shots – only two of which were on target – before eventually finding the net with his seventh.

What's next?

Portugal return to World Cup qualification on Tuesday as they host Luxembourg.

Cristiano Ronaldo is convinced his move to Manchester United will be a "big thing in the next three or four years" and insists he is "not here for a vacation".

The former Real Madrid forward netted 118 times in 292 appearances across all competitions for United, lifting three Premier League trophies and the Champions League during a glorious six-year spell between 2003 and 2009.

The Portugal captain returned to Manchester earlier in the week for the first time since his arrival from Juventus, after breaking Ali Daei's all-time international scoring record against the Republic of Ireland with his 110th and 111th goals for his country.

Speaking exclusively to former team-mate Wes Brown in an interview with United's official website, Ronaldo declared his return is not just for nostalgia.

"I am not here for a vacation," the 36-year-old said.

"As I told you, before was good, winning important things and I wore the shirt before many years ago, but I am here to win again.

"I am capable, me and my team-mates. I am ready to go. It is a good chance for me, for the supporters, for the club, to get one step ahead.

"I am ready and I think I will be a huge thing in the next three or four years."

Ronaldo is in line to feature against Newcastle United on Saturday, the Magpies being the only club the returning star managed a Premier League hat-trick against in his first spell in Manchester.

Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United will help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side mount a title challenge, according to former Red Devil Wayne Rooney.

Rooney played with Ronaldo during a five-year spell at Old Trafford, winning three Premier League crowns and the Champions League.

The Portugal captain, who blasted in 118 goals in 292 games across all competitions in his first spell with United, could make his second debut as soon as Saturday against Newcastle United, who are the only club he managed a Premier League hat-trick against during his first term in Manchester.

Now managing Derby County, Rooney said he will not be watching his former team-mate's homecoming but predicts Ronaldo to have an "enormous impact" in his second spell.

"He's one of the best players in the world," Rooney told reporters ahead of Derby's clash with Birmingham City on Friday.

"Cristiano will know himself it's not going to be as simple or straightforward for him as it was in Spain or Italy.

"Cristiano's going to be a very big player, I think he's going to have big moments in the season and I'm sure he'll score a lot of goals.

"So I think United are finally ready to go and challenge for the title, and I really feel they have to this year."

 

Ronaldo missed a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan with Portugal after being suspended following a caution against the Republic of Ireland for his last-minute goal celebration.

Indeed, in that game the 36-year-old broke Ali Daei's all-time men's international scoring record as he netted his 110th and 111th goals for the Selecao.

And Rooney pointed to that performance as a reason why his former colleague will thrive in the Premier League.

"We saw, in the game against Ireland, what he does," Rooney continued.

"[In the] last couple of minutes, he scores a couple of goals, great headers, so he can have a massive impact on the Premier League.

"It's a physical league, but he knows that, because he's played in it before, so I'm sure he's prepared and ready to go and score goals again for United."

Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford will instil confidence and help Manchester United win titles, according to Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes was United's key man last term, scoring 18 times and assisting 12 in the Premier League as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men finished second in the top flight.

Ronaldo now joins his Portugal team-mate, returning to Manchester after a 12-year absence having previously scored 118 goals in 292 appearances across all competitions in his first spell.

And Fernandes, who impressed with a game-high five passes including an assist in the absence of Ronaldo against Azerbaijan, hailed the quality and confidence the all-time leading international scorer will offer.

"We know that enthusiasm will be high, everyone knows Cristiano and is very happy and confident to have him back," Fernandes told RTP3 post-match on Tuesday.

"[Us] players are part of that confidence, we know what he can give us. Our focus and Cristiano's, because of what I've already talked to him about, is to win what there is to win.

"Our goals remain and obviously, with Cristiano, we have one more reference to help us get closer to that."

 

Ronaldo could feature as soon as September 11 against Newcastle United, who are the only club the 36-year-old scored a Premier League hat-trick against before departing Manchester in 2009.

Despite the supposed rivalry, Liverpool forward Diogo Jota, who scored in the 3-0 defeat of Azerbaijan but blasted a team-high five shots, is looking forward to a competitive Premier League campaign with Ronaldo returning.

"Yes, it always adds value and I think this year has everything to be another great English championship," Jota said to RTP3.

"There was a joke or two while he [Ronaldo] was here, but nothing special."

Fernando Santos felt Portugal deserved to win by an even bigger margin in their 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.

Portugal made it four wins in five Group A matches to reclaim top spot from Serbia, who were held 1-1 by the Republic of Ireland.

The 2016 European champions were two goals ahead inside 31 minutes thanks to Bernardo Silva's volley and Andre Silva's tap-in.

Diogo Jota added a third for the visitors 15 minutes from time, but only after the Liverpool attacker and Andre Silva had wasted some glorious opportunities.

Portugal scored from three of their 21 attempts in total, a third of those on target, and Santos was disappointed his side did not further improve their goal difference.

"The only thing about the result that is not good was the amount of goals we scored," he told RTP.

"When teams are not organised then they have difficulties, running a lot after the ball and wearing themselves out. When they have the ball they have more difficulties.

"Without some balance in the game it becomes difficult. We knew this was a game of patience as the opponents usually defend well. We knew an early goal would force them to change.

"That happened after the second goal when they went with a 4-3-3. We were always looking for the goal and creating spaces to enter, either through the middle or out wide."

 

Jota was responsible for a team-high five of Portugal's shots, finding the net from one of those having earlier claimed an assist for Andre Silva's goal.

He now has eight goals in 21 caps for the Selecao, who have put their Euro 2020 disappointment behind them with three wins from three over the past week.

"In these three games, one of which was a friendly, we did our job, which was to win each of them," Jota told RTP. "Today's performance was good and so was the result.

"This is what football is all about. You should never give up after missing. I'm glad I scored in the end. I always want to help individually, but the result is the most important thing."

Portugal were without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now linked up with Manchester United, but are two points clear of Serbia in Group A with three more fixtures still to play.

"Every opponent and every match is tough and will be like a final for us," Andre Silva said. "We drew in Serbia and still have to play them in our last game.

"We have to focus on ourselves as we have those three finals to win."

Portugal reclaimed top spot in Group A as they cruised to a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.

In the absence of the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the all-time international top men's goalscorer against the Republic of Ireland, the goals were shared around by Fernando Santos' men.

Bruno Fernandes played a part in the first two, teeing up Bernardo Silva for the opener before crossing for Diogo Jota to set up Andre Silva for the second.

Without Sahruddin Mahammadaliyev, matters could have been far worse for Azerbaijan, but the goalkeeper was powerless to stopping Jota add a third in the second half.

The visitors dominated the opening stages, registering 66.7 per cent possession in the first 15 minutes but Fernandes lashed the only half-chance over.

Portugal's possessional patience eventually paid off, Bernardo Silva ghosting in to latch onto Fernandes' deep cross and volley home via the left-hand post with his left foot.

Fernandes was involved in the second goal, too, crossing from the right flank to find Jota, who redirected back across goal for Andre Silva to tap in inside the six-yard area.

Andre Silva should have doubled his account four minutes later after being rolled through by Fernandes, only to drag a glorious chance wide with the goal at his mercy.

A minute after the break, Jota failed to make it three as he sliced wide of an almost open net after profiting from Fernandes' drilled teaser from the right flank.

Fernandes looked for a goal of his own from range, but Mahammadaliyev parried the dipping effort away before keeping out Bernando Silva's fizzing left-footed strike.

After being denied from close range by Mahammadaliyev and blasting over, Jota finally found the back of the net, nodding home after Joao Cancelo's delivery from the right.

What does it mean? Portugal wrestle back top spot

It was always going to be an uphill task for Azerbaijan after Bernardo Silva's opener, given Fernando Santos' men are unbeaten since 2009 when scoring the opening goal in World Cup qualifiers.

Indeed, Portugal boast the best defensive record in Group A, but they are by no means cruising in qualification, topping the table on 13 points with second-place Serbia three points behind by the virtue of playing later on Tuesday.

Azerbaijan, who ended a two-game losing streak with a draw against the Republic of Ireland last time out, sit bottom on goal difference after collecting just the sole point.

Cruise control for Cancelo

Fernandes may take credit for his playmaking clinic, which saw him produce three key passes including his assist.

However, Cancelo sneaked under the radar as he produced a dominant display. The right-back assisted Jota's header with a deep cross from the right flank and was seemingly everywhere in Baku.

The Manchester City defender recorded 121 touches and 77 successful passes – both game-leading figures – while also completing a team-high four tackles in a complete showing.

Awful Alasgarov

Namiq Alasgarov cut an isolated figure up top, with matters made worse by his first-half caution for a reckless challenge on Joao Moutinho.

The forward's 38 touches were the lowest of any outfield player to play 90 minutes and he only won a third of the nine duels he competed for as he struggled against Ruben Dias and Pepe.

What's next?

Portugal host Luxembourg in their next qualifier on October 12 after a friendly against Qatar, while Azerbaijan invite the Republic of Ireland to Baku on October 9.

Portugal boss Fernando Santos is worried by the number of goals his side have conceded in recent games.

The Selecao claimed a 3-1 win over nine-man Qatar in Saturday's friendly to make it back-to-back victories since exiting Euro 2020 to Belgium at the last-16 stage.

Santos made 11 changes on the back of the late 2-1 victory over Republic of Ireland and Portugal took time to get going against World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar.

However, quickfire goals from Andre Silva and debutant Otavio put Portugal in control at half-time, at which point Qatar were a player short after Meshaal Barsham was dismissed.

Portugal switched off in the second period and gave their opponents a route back into the game when Abdelkarim Hassan headed in unmarked.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty late on to seal the win for the 2016 European champions, but Santos was not entirely pleased with his much-changed side's performance.

"In the first 15 minutes, we were good in terms of our defensive organisation," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When Qatar were looking to attack from behind, we were good. We never let Qatar create, we stole a lot of balls and with clear situations of being able to score on the counter.

"But in ball circulation, we were very slow and a lot of passes went astray, which allowed Qatar to create two or three opportunities on the counter-attack. 

"They have very fast players up front. In the first 15 minutes, in terms of scoring opportunities, we ended up being equal. 

"After those 15 minutes, the possibility for them to counter-attack ended, the team began to circulate in a different way, creating situations with lots of security. 

"We pressed very well, made it 2-0 and it could have been more.

"We were still good in the first 10 minutes of the second half. But we disconnected a little and let the opponent pick up the ball and they scored, meaning we couldn't relax."

Portugal, who required a couple of late headers from Cristiano Ronaldo to overcome Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, have now conceded nine goals in their last five matches.

That follows on from a run of three games in a row without conceding earlier this year.

"A team that concedes nine goals in five games is worrying," Santos added. "There are things we have always done very well and one of them is defensive set-pieces.

"It was very rare for us to concede goals like that, but now we do. I've already alerted the players to that. Just this morning we spent time working on set-pieces."

Brazilian-born Otavio obtained Portuguese citizenship in March and marked his first appearance for the Selecao with a goal.

He scored from one of his two shots on target and also played a joint-high three key passes, which was matched by Fernandes despite the midfielder only playing 30 minutes.

Asked what he made of Otavio's display, Santos said: "He was part of the group of players that did well for 30 minutes."

Portugal switch focus back to their World Cup qualifying Group A campaign with a trip to Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

Otavio marked his senior international debut with a goal as Portugal beat nine-man Qatar 3-1 in Saturday's international friendly at the Nagyerdei Stadium in Hungary.

Portugal made 11 changes on the back of their dramatic 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and initially looked disjointed in the opening quarter of the contest.

But quickfire headers from Andre Silva and Otavio put Portugal in control before half-time, at which point Qatar were a player light following Meshaal Barsham's dismissal. 

Without talismanic skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos' side were given a scare when Abdelkarim Hassan pulled one back, though Boualem Khoukhi was next to be sent off and Bruno Fernandes made certain of the win with a late penalty.

Qatar lost 4-0 to Serbia on Wednesday but made a bright start to their latest friendly and nearly took the lead when Almoez Ali sent an angled shot crashing against the post.

Abdulaziz Hatim then called Anthony Lopes into action, but Santos' men took the lead through their first attempt as Silva headed in Joao Mario's cross from six yards.

Otavio's maiden goal followed just 84 seconds later, the Porto attacker climbing highest to guide Goncalo Guedes' centre away from Barsham.

Qatar's hopes of finding a route back into the game were dented when, following a lengthy VAR review, Barsham was issued a red card for catching Guedes outside the box.

However, shortly after Joao Mario skied a glorious chance over the bar from close range, the 2022 World Cup hosts had one back through unmarked Hassan's header.

Felix Sanchez's side could not build on that goal, though, and Fernandes converted from 12 yards after fellow substitute Diogo Jota was fouled by Tarek Salman inside the box, a decision that led to Khoukhi being dismissed for his protests. 

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is glad to see Cristiano Ronaldo back in the Premier League but will never compare his record to that of the Manchester United forward.

In the same week he completed a shock return to United, Ronaldo made history on Wednesday by becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football.

Ronaldo scored a couple of late headers to earn his side a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over the Republic of Ireland and surpass Ali Daei's previous high of 109 goals.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's 111 international goals have come from 180 appearances, an average of 0.62 goals per game.

That compares to 0.66 goals per game for Lukaku at international level, the 28-year-old having scored 66 times in 99 outings for Belgium in all competitions.

While Lukaku still has plenty of time on his side to potentially chase down Ronaldo's ever growing tally, the prolific striker is not interested in individual accolades over team honours.

"I don't have a goals number in mind, all that interests me is to win trophies," he said at a news conference on Saturday previewing Belgium's qualifier against the Czech Republic.

"I will never compare myself to Ronaldo – he is one of the three best players of all time. I am proud to have played against him and it's good for English football he's come back."

Lukaku's latest two-goal haul earned Belgium a 5-2 comeback win over Estonia on Thursday.

He extended his lead at the top of the Red Devils' all-time top scorers list, with Eden Hazard and Bernard Voorhoof second and third with 32 and 30 goals respectively.

Forty-nine of Lukaku's international goals have come in his last 47 appearances, with 2014 being his most prolific calendar year as he netted 14 times in 14 caps.

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