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LUXEMBOURG (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo took his career tally to 99 international goals on Sunday as Portugal qualified for the 2020 European Championship with a 2-0 win at Luxembourg.
The Juventus star rushed to tap in a shot by teammate Diogo Jota that was just inches from going over the goal-line in the 86th minute. The nudge left Jota without his first international goal, and Ronaldo one more strike from the century mark.
Bruno Fernandes got Portugal’s first goal against the flow of play in the 39th when he scored from a long pass by Bruno Silva.
Luxembourg had outplayed Portugal until that point, dealing with the poor field conditions better than the defending European champions.
Portugal advanced to Euro 2020 in second place in Group B. Ukraine had already gone through as the group winner.
"Our performance was good given the conditions,” Fernandes said. “We knew this game would be based on quantity rather than quality. We battled a lot and our great spirit is what helped us to win.”
On Thursday, Ronaldo scored a hat trick to lead a 6-0 rout of Lithuania, but he was largely kept in check by Luxembourg.
Also Sunday, Serbia drew 2-2 with Ukraine to finish the group in third place. Serbia still has a chance to reach the tournament through the playoff process.
Ukraine finished with 20 points. Portugal had 17, Serbia 14, Luxembourg 4, and Lithuania 1.
Portugal struggled early in qualification, being held to draws by Ukraine and Serbia in its first two matches. It also lost to Ukraine in October.
But Ronaldo powered the team the rest of the way, and finished with 11 goals in the eight group matches.
"We have proved that we are one of the greatest teams in Europe and the world,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “You have to believe in these players. We have to remain grounded and we will be there as (title) candidates."
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