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Cristiano Ronaldo scores the winner in a record 200th game for Portugal

‘It’s a moment you never expect,’ Ronaldo said of becoming the first male player to reach the 200 cap.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first male soccer player to make 200 international appearances and celebrated the milestone with an 89th minute winner as Portugal beat Iceland 1-0 in a European Championship qualifier.

Ronaldo scored the only goal in Tuesday’s game against Iceland, who played with 10 men after Willem Willumsson was sent off 10 minutes into the Euro 2024 qualifier.

Ronaldo, 38, was honored by Guinness World Records before kickoff on Tuesday for reaching 200 appearances for Portugal nearly 20 years after making his debut for the national team, surpassing Kuwait forward Bader Al-Mutawa’s 196-cap record in March.

And he too was celebrating at the end of the match, going close to scoring the subsequent winner against Iceland to put Portugal on track for Euro 2024 qualification for the Portuguese side’s fourth win in Group J from four games.

Marking his 200th cap, the Portugal team’s official Twitter account featured the message: “How it began. How’s it going”, above a photo of an excited Ronaldo at Tuesday’s game alongside a photo of a young Ronaldo making his debut for Portugal.

Ronaldo also equaled his record for international goals with his 123rd goal for Portugal on Tuesday – making it another memorable night for the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star.

Ronaldo said he was “very proud” to reach 200 caps for Portugal.

“Very happy. It’s a moment you never expect to do, 200 caps. For me it’s an incredible achievement,” Ronaldo told UEFA’s website. “Of course, to score the winner, it’s even more special.”

Asked about the most special of the 199 games he has played so far, Ronaldo couldn’t pick one.

“It’s hard to pick just one. I have many beautiful moments. Euro 2016, Nations League, but there are some very beautiful moments and that’s why I like to say the next match is the best,” he said.

Ronaldo’s teammates Rafael Liao and Bruno Fernandes looked more likely to provide an opening in the match in Reykjavik, until Iceland midfielder Willam Willamsson was sent off with 10 minutes of normal time remaining for a second yellow card.

Ronaldo missed several chances and was booked for diving in the 83rd, before finally getting the winner when Goncalo Inacio headed the ball forward to score from close range.

Even then there was an anxious wait for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check before Ronaldo could celebrate in his own style.

Midfielder Joao Moutinho is now the second most capped male player for Portugal with 146 appearances, while defender Pepe is third with 133.

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