Ronaldo scores 99th goal as Portugal qualifies for Euro 2020

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores their second goal in their match with Luxembourg on Nov 17. 2019. (REUTERS/Johanna Geron)
Updated 18 November 2019

Ronaldo scores 99th goal as Portugal qualifies for Euro 2020

  • Portugal advanced to Euro 2020 in second place in Group B
  • Ukraine had already gone through as the group winner

LUXEMBOURG: Cristiano Ronaldo took his career tally to 99 international goals on Sunday as Portugal qualified for the 2020 European Championship with a 2-0 win against Luxembourg.

The Juventus star tapped in a shot by teammate Diogo Jota that was just inches from going over the goal line in the 86th minute, leaving Ronaldo one strike from the 100-goal mark.

Bruno Fernandes got Portugal’s first goal against the flow of play in the 39th when he scored from a long pass by Bruno Silva.

Luxembourg had outplayed Portugal until that point, dealing with the poor field conditions better than the defending European champions.

Portugal advanced to Euro 2020 in second place in Group B. Ukraine had already gone through as the group winner.

Separately, World Cup runners-up Croatia rounded off a rebuilding mission by booking their place at the tournament with a 3-1 win over Slovakia but they are unlikely to sneak under the radar again at next year’s finals.

Croatia secured top spot in Group E, a section also including Hungary, Wales and Azerbaijan, with five wins and two draws from their eight qualifiers.

Coach Zlatko Dalic, who masterminded the run to last year’s World Cup final, has gradually reconstructed a squad that lost Mario Mandzukic, Danijel Subasic and Vedran Corluka to retirement in the wake of the 4-2 loss to France in Russia.

The “Vatreni” — Croatian for “Fiery Ones” — needed only a point in Rijeka on Saturday to ensure a spot at the 24-team event, which kicks off in Rome on June 12.

After a shocking start for home fans when Robert Bozenik scored in the 32th minute, Croatia’s qualification was never in doubt once Nikola Vlasic drilled home the leveller in the second half.

Bruno Petkovic headed the hosts in front and Ivan Perisic sealed the three points with a thumping finish with 16 minutes left.

“I’m relieved ... proud and happy,” Dalic said after the match.

“These boys deserved the European Championship. This is the crowning moment for all that we have done in this year and a half since the World Cup.”

But the path through qualifying, preceded by a poor showing in the Nations League, where Croatia finished last in their group behind Spain and England, was far from plain sailing.


Saudi Arabia to stage first professional ladies golf tournament

Updated 5 min 5 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to stage first professional ladies golf tournament

  • Royal Greens Golf & Country Club will host a Ladies European Tour event in March

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia continued its groundbreaking sporting development with Thursday’s announcement that a Ladies European Tour (LET) event will take place at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City from March 19 to 22.

The 72-hole stroke play tournament will be the first time that professional female golfers have played in the Kingdom and will  have a $1 million prize fund for which 108 golfers are expected to compete. It will be broadcast domestically and to more than 340 million homes across more than 55 countries worldwide, according to a press release from Golf Saudi.

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is also the host of the men's European Tour’s Saudi International. Dustin Johnson won the first staging of the competition this year and will return in January to defend his title against a world-class field including Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said in the press release announcing the ladies competition: “We are delighted to be creating history by hosting the inaugural ladies professional tournament in March. I hope the tournament will inspire many women to take up the great game of golf and awaken their interest in this wonderful sport. We warmly welcome all the players to the Kingdom and wish everyone a rewarding experience in our magical country.”

“I am incredibly excited by this announcement and it is an honor for the Tour to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,” said LET CEO Alexandra Armas in the press release. “(It) is an exciting prospect for everyone at LET and having seen the quality of the event staging for the Saudi International, I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for our players.”

Alongside the announcement of the tournament, Golf Saudi also revealed several new ambassadors from the LET who will help to promote golf in the Kingdom. The UK’s Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the program.

Looking ahead to the inaugural LET event, three-time Tour winner Booth said: “I’m looking forward to being part of history with the other ladies on the tour and of course to competing over the Royal Greens course. I have visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions and been lucky enough to spend some time teaching local women and girls how to play; they have been so enthusiastic and I am sure that seeing professional golfers compete in their country will inspire them to take up the game and strive for their dreams.”