Harry Kane breaks England all-time goal record with Italy strike
Naples (Italy), March 24: Star footballer Harry Kane became England’s all-time top scorer in men’s football. He overtook Wayne Rooney after he scored against Italy in a Euro 2024 qualifiers on Friday.
The Tottenham striker banished memories of his crucial penalty miss in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in December by smashing home a spot-kick just before half-time to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in Naples.
On his 81st international appearance, the England captain moves clear of Wayne Rooney’s tally of 53 goals for the Three Lions.
Kane also surpassed Jimmy Greaves’ previous record of 266 to become Tottenham’s top scorer in February.
The 29-year-old scored his first senior international goal just seconds into his debut as a Wembley substitute against Lithuania in March 2015.
He was named as Gareth Southgate’s skipper ahead of the 2018 World Cup and led his country to the semi-finals, bagging the Golden Boot with six goals in Russia.
Four more goals at Euro 2020 helped England reach a first major final since 1966.
Kane’s two goals at the 2022 World Cup saw him move ahead of Gary Lineker as England’s top scorer at major tournaments with 12.
However, a career laden with personal milestones is still lacking collective glory.
Kane is yet to win a major trophy for club or country.
As well as the near-misses for England, he was on the losing side when Tottenham reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history in 2019, going down 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid.
His future at club level is again a source of speculation with just over one year left to run on his contract amid interest from Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Cristiano Ronaldo breaks men’s international caps record, scores double
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal thrashed Liechtenstein 4-0 in Euro 2024 qualifying. With this win, Ronaldo broke the men’s international appearance record.
The 38-year-old, who was dropped from the Portuguese first-choice XI during the World Cup in Qatar last year, won a 197th cap for his country in Lisbon as a starter.
He netted a 51st-minute penalty after earlier goals from Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva, before drilling home a free-kick 12 minutes later.
It was Ronaldo’s record-extending 120th goal for his country and made him the first man to score 100 times in competitive internationals.
“Records are my motivation,” Ronaldo had told reporters on Wednesday.
“I want to become the most capped player in history. That would make me proud.
“But it doesn’t stop there, I still want to be called up very often.”
Ronaldo made his international debut in 2003 and became the first man to score in five World Cups last year before Portugal lost to Morocco in the quarter-finals.
He is currently playing for Saudi club Al Nassr after an acrimonious end to his second spell at Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s appearance off the bench in the defeat by Morocco equalled the previous mark of 196 caps held by Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa.
He left the pitch in tears following Portugal’s shock 1-0 loss against the North Africans.
Since leaving Europe, Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 10 matches for Al Nassr.
He was replaced as the starting striker by Goncalo Ramos during the World Cup, with the Benfica youngster scoring a hat-trick in a last-16 win over Switzerland.
But veteran coach Fernando Santos stepped down following the tournament and new boss Roberto Martinez has immediately put his faith in Ronaldo, who also captained the side.
There were questions over whether his 20-year international career had ended in Qatar as Ronaldo will be 39 by the time Euro 2024 kicks off.
But Martinez, who left his role as Belgium coach after the World Cup, has strongly defended his decision to keep Ronaldo in the fold.
“I do not look at the age,” said Martinez when he announced his first squad last week.
The Spaniard added his squad announcement was the “starting point” for Euro 2024, suggesting Ronaldo is likely to be involved if Portugal qualify for the tournament in Germany.
Portugal made the perfect start to their qualification campaign with a straightforward win against Liechtenstein.
Cancelo scored the only goal of the first half in the eighth minute but the floodgates opened after the break.
Bernardo Silva doubled the advantage less than two minutes into the second period before Ronaldo hammered a penalty into the bottom corner.
A powerful free-kick from the edge of the box flew through the hands of goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel to complete the scoring.
Ronaldo was substituted late on for Ramos, with the much expected changing of the guard put on the back burner.
Ronaldo adds the international appearance landmark to an impressive list of individual records.
He is the leading goalscorer in European Championship finals with 14 goals and has netted a record 140 times in the Champions League.
Ronaldo has also finished as the top-scorer in three of Europe’s top five leagues — in England, Spain and Italy.
Portugal will visit Luxembourg in their second Group J qualifier on Sunday.
They have also been drawn alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Slovakia.
(ToI With inputs from AFP)