Cristiano Ronaldo netted a double to become the European Championship’s all-time leading scorer as Portugal struck three times late on to beat a stubborn Hungary 3-0 in their Euro 2020 opener at a packed Puskas Arena on Tuesday (local)
A Mats Hummels own goal was enough to hand France a 1-0 victory over Germany as the world champions made a winning start to their Euro 2020 campaign by dominating in Munich.
But the match was marred by a bizarre moment when German defender Antonio Rudiger appeared to bite France midfielder Paul Pogba.
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Shortly before half-time, Rudiger seemed to bite Pogba’s back, causing the Manchester United man to scream out. Pogba complained furiously to the referee and then a linesman, but Rudiger avoided punishment for the incident with VAR also not intervening.
Speaking on ITV, former Manchester United star Roy Keane said: “I think it was more of a nibble, wasn’t it, than a bite? A silly thing to do.”
Patrick Viera replied: “When you see the Pogba reaction, he felt like a bite. I do not understand what he was trying to do (with) that.”
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PORTUGAL BLAST LATE TREBLE
The holders, who appear to have a much stronger squad than when they won their first major title five years ago, laboured for long periods in Budapest.
But Raphael Guerreiro made the vital breakthrough in the 84th minute and Ronaldo slammed in a penalty shortly afterwards before tapping home in injury time.
The Juventus striker has now scored 11 goals in the tournament, two more than French great Michel Platini, who netted nine times when he led France to glory in 1984.
The 36-year-old is also just three goals away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.
Ronaldo chose by far the biggest crowd of the tournament to break the record in front of, with Budapest the only Euro 2020 venue not to limit fan capacity due to Covid-19.
The Puskas Arena has a capacity of almost 68,000 fans.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos opted to play Liverpool forward Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva alongside Ronaldo ahead of Joao Felix.
It almost paid instant dividends, as Jota forced Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi into a smart save with a left-footed drive in the fourth minute, although he perhaps should have squared the ball for an unmarked Ronaldo.
Five minutes later, Jota, who was out injured for most of the latter stages of the club season, volleyed Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick over the crossbar.
Ronaldo created an opportunity for Bernardo Silva in the 28th minute by winning the ball back high up the pitch, only for the Manchester City winger to delay his shot too long and see the opening snuffed out by an excellent tackle from Hungary centre-back Willi Orban.
Hungary offered very little from open play, although they sent Portugal a warning shortly before halftime when Adam Szalai headed a free-kick too close to Rui Patricio.
Jota continued to be Portugal’s most dangerous player, but his shot on the turn was beaten away by Gulacsi.
Ronaldo misses glorious chance
The best chance of the opening period fell to Ronaldo in the 44th minute, only for the Portugal captain to plant the ball over from six yards out after meeting Guerreiro’s low cross.
Portugal came out of the blocks quickly after the break, knowing failure to win would put them in trouble in such a difficult group, with Pepe seeing a downward header well saved by the stretching Gulacsi.
Santos’ men continued to press despite Hungary growing in confidence, with Fernandes drawing Gulacsi into another fine stop with a dipping strike from long range.
Despite having Felix, in-form Eintracht Frankfurt striker Andre Silva and Pedro Goncalves, last season’s topscorer in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, on the bench, Santos waited until the 71st minute to make a change, sending on Rafa Silva for Bernardo Silva.
Portugal’s increasing frustration in the closing quarter of an hour was shown when Ronaldo begged for a penalty for handball against Attila Fiola.
Hungary thought they had snatched a shock lead through substitute Szabolcs Schon, but he was denied by a late linesman’s flag for off-side.
Rafa Silva played a key role in the opening goal, though, as his deflected cross was met by Guerreiro, whose shot also took a huge deflection and dribbled agonisingly into the corner of the Hungarian net.
The home side’s resistance was totally over three minutes later, as Orban pulled back Rafa Silva when he was clean through on goal.
Ronaldo stepped up and made no mistake, sending Gulacsi the wrong way to add another record to his collection on the day he became the first player in history to play at five European Championships.
There was more to come from Ronaldo, as he danced through after a one-two with Rafa Silva and rolled in his 106th goal for Portugal.
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FRANCE BEAT GERMANY IN THRILLING CLASH
Hummels’ heartbreaking own goal after 20 minutes ensured France would claim a win to open their campaign.
France deserved the win, with both Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having second-half goals ruled offside while Adrien Rabiot also hit the post for Les Bleus.
The result leaves France second on goal difference in the early Group F table behind Portugal, after the holders’ 3-0 win over Hungary earlier in Budapest.
The home defeat piles the pressure on Germany ahead of their next game against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on Saturday, also at the Allianz Arena.
German head coach Joachim Loew, who will stand down after the European Championship, is desperate to avoid a repeat of the 2018 World Cup when Die Mannschaft suffered the humiliation of finishing bottom of their group.
It was a heartbreaking night for Hummels, back to boost the German defence after a two-year exile from international football.
Seven years ago, it was Hummels’ headed goal which knocked France out of the 2014 World Cup in the quarter-finals as Germany went on to win the title in Brazil.
The opening 15 minutes on Tuesday were spent with the European heavyweights tentatively probing each other’s defence until the French started to exert pressure and landed a sucker punch.
France’s Bayern Munich defender Lucas Hernandez met Paul Pogba’s magnificent pass with a low cross from the left flank which Hummels, to his horror, turned into his own net.
There was plenty of first-half niggle.
Germany defender Antonio Ruediger appeared to attempt to bite the back of France midfielder Pogba, who he was tightly marking.
Joshua Kimmich was booked in only the seventh minute for a late tackle on his Bayern team-mate Hernandez.
France made a strong start to the second half as Rabiot hit the post after a strong run into the area by Mbappe.
Germany started to threaten the French goal, with Serge Gnabry firing over. The hosts had a let-off when Mbappe hit the net after cutting inside and curling in a superb shot on 66 minutes, but the goal was ruled out.
With 16 minutes left, Loew put fresh legs into Germany’s attack with Leroy Sane and Timo Werner replacing Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry, but the French defence held firm.
In the final 10 minutes, Mbappe was furious to be denied a penalty when a Hummels tackle from behind just pushed the ball out of harm’s way before the France forward crashed to the turf.
In his first competitive international since France’s defeat by Germany at the 2014 World Cup, Benzema looked to have sealed the win when he tapped in Mbappe’s pass in the dying stages, but VAR caught the Paris Saint-Germain offside again.