Portugal 9-0 Luxembourg (Sep 11, 2023) Game Analysis ESPN
Portugal didn't need Cristiano Ronaldo to rack up its biggest-ever win in a competitive game.
A 9-0 rout of Luxembourg in European Championship qualifying on Monday was done without Ronaldo, who was suspended because of an accumulation of yellow cards in earlier Group J games.
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Portugal's previous record for margin of victory was 8-0, which they achieved three times -- twice against Liechtenstein (1994 and 1999) and once versus Kuwait (2003).
In the absence of the five-time world player of the year and record scorer in men's internationals, Goncalo Ramos, Goncalo Inacio and Diogo Jota all scored twice along with goals for Ricardo Horta, Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix in the Algarve.
The 38-year-old Ronaldo missed a great chance to add to his haul of 123 international goals, but there'll be four more opportunities in a group that Portugal is dominating with six straight wins. No other team has that many victories in qualifying.
Roberto Martinez's team, who has now scored 24 times and not given up a goal, stayed five points ahead of Slovakia and moved eight ahead of Luxembourg. The top two in each group qualify automatically.
"It was perfect because the players had the same attitude from the first to the last minute," Martinez said after the game. "They remained concentrated not only in attack but to ensure we kept a clean sheet. As a coach, I really liked the attitude of the players, and they have a place in the history of Portuguese football.
"For us, it's a starting point. We have to continue to work and improve but the team has continuity. This group deserves to create history. The talent is at the highest level in world football. The attitude was always good from the first day. The victory was very important for us. The players on the bench have a clear idea of what they can add to the group. Everyone is ready to help the team."
Ramos scored two of the team's first three goals as Ronaldo's replacement, a role he thrives in. He also did it notably at last year's World Cup in Qatar when -- in a huge call by then-coach Fernando Santos -- Ronaldo was dropped to the bench for the match against Switzerland in the round of 16.
Ramos scored a hat trick in that game, announcing himself to the soccer world. After the World Cup completed a move from Benfica to Paris Saint-Germain and might be the long-term replacement for Ronaldo, who now plays in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr, for a Portugal national team that is surely heading to Euro 2024 in Germany next summer.