It was tough sledding for the defending European champions, Portugal, but a pair of goals within the final 10 minutes lifted the holders past Hungary 3-0 to open up Group F action — better known as the group of death alongside France and Germany — at Euro 2020 on Tuesday afternoon in Budapest.
One of the most recognizable superstars on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo, recorded a pair of goals to set a new record for the most career goals scored at the Euros with 11, passing France’s Michel Platini’s former mark of nine. Ronaldo fired home a penalty in the 87th minute, just three minutes after Portugal’s opener through Raphael Guerrero before a brilliant move played him in alone on Hungary’s goal from inside the six-yard box — to which he finished with ease.
As anticipated, Portugal bossed most of the possession while Hungary attempted to play a similar defensive style exhibited by Sweden on Monday against the heavily-favored Spain in a scoreless draw. Granted, Hungary did exhibit some more attacking flair.
Portugal saw nearly 70% of the ball in the first half with a bevy of chances — including a 40th-minute spinning effort from Diogo Jota from eight yards out that was parried away — but none would get through Hungarian goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi, who backstops the developing German giants, Red Bull Leipzig, in the Bundesliga.
In the 37th minute, a rare Hungary chance saw a free-kick fall to the head of captain Adam Szalai in the box, but with his back turned to goal, his chance traveled right into the arms of Portugal keeper Rui Patricio.
Ronaldo had a golden chance in the 43rd minute when a cross fell to his right foot just six yards in front of goal, but a slight deflection threw him off and he catapulted his chance over the bar.
A tie at halftime is nothing new for Portugal as Tuesday was their seventh-straight match at the European Championships that were deadlocked at the break.
Veteran defender and long-time Real Madrid man now playing with Porto, Pepe, got his head on a Portugal corner kick just three minutes into the second half, but it just didn’t have enough on it as Gulácsi was able to get over to the left post and punch it away.
As Hungary turned up its pace and worked out more attacking chances, it looked as though the hosts took the lead in the 80th minute when Szabolcs Schon was played down the left wing, cut inside, and snuck a shot under the hand of Patricio. But the goal was called back for offsides.
Four minutes later, Portugal had their goal to sour the gargantuan Hungarian effort thanks to a pair of fortuitous deflections.
An initial cross from Rafa Silva from the right of the Hungary box was deflected right to the path of Guerrero, whose timid shot caught a piece of a Hungarian defender before rolling in harmlessly just inside the left post.
Moments later, a generous penalty call cemented Portugal’s win and Ronaldo’s place atop the all-time Euro scoring list with an easy penalty conversion in the 87th minute before he weaved through the Hungarian defense in the 91st minute to put the result beyond all shadow of a doubt.