Cristiano Ronaldo scored his fourth goal of the World Cup to become the second-highest goalscorer in men’s international football and, in the process, earn Portugal a nervy 1-0 win over Morocco.
The Real Madrid star followed up his hattrick against Spain on Friday with a fourth-minute header which was his 85th goal for his country in 152 games.
No other European player has scored as many as the Portuguese and only Ali Daei, with 109 goals for Iran, is above him in the scoring charts.
Before the match Portugal coach Fernando Santos said his team must not solely rely on their captain but, once again, it was Ronaldo who proved to be the match winner, though his performance was not as spectacular as his display in the 3-3 draw against Spain.
The result puts Portugal, with four points from two games, in a strong position to progress from Group B while Morocco become the first team to be eliminated from the tournament after a second defeat in as many games.
Following Morocco out of the competition are Saudi Arabia, who succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Wednesday’s second match.
Saudi Arabia’s failure to beat the South Americans also means Group A rivals Egypt are eliminated before the final round of group matches and hosts Russia progress to the last 16.
Morocco will rue giving Ronaldo too much freedom in the six-yard box. The Portugal captain’s performance against Spain alone was warning enough of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s ruthlessness.
A canny run from the Portugal’s No.7 bamboozled Manuel da Costa, leaving Ronaldo who against Spain became the first man to score in eight consecutive major tournaments on his own to send a stooping header into the net.
But Portugal’s supremacy was confined to the scoreshee, because for possession, passes made and attempts on goal Morocco were the superior team.