LISBON — Cristiano Ronaldo’s close-range finish earned Portugal a 1-0 win in a scrappy Euro 2016 qualifier with Armenia in Faro on Friday.
In netting the winner, the Real Madrid forward became the all-time leading goalscorer in European Championship qualification and finals combined, his 23rd strike seeing him overtake Dane Jon Dahl Tomasson and former Turkey striker Hakan Sukur.
The hosts had the better of the first period but Armenia were not entirely subdued; Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s free-kick almost deflected past Rui Patrício who then denied Kamo Hovhannisyan’s stinging shot after the midfielder was released into the area.
The pattern of Portugal forcing the pace and Armenia hitting on the counter continued in the second half, and it was Danny who went the closest to breaking the deadlock as he looped a header onto the crossbar with Berezovski beaten, though Taron Voskanyan wasted an outstanding opening with his head at the other end.
Ronaldo’s score in the 72 minute was the scrappiest of goals as Ricardo Quaresma’s shot was saved before the rebound was scuffed back into the area where the No7 – almost on the goal-line – needed two swipes at the ball to put it in. It was far from the Real Madrid CF man’s best, but wasenough to secure a vital three points.
The result leaves Portugal second in Group I, occupying an automatic qualification spot, one point behind Denmark.
Armenia, who defended stubbornly for much of the encounter, remain at the foot of the table with just one point to their name from three matches.