This weekend saw three of Portugal’s biggest foreign-based talents at different stages of their career all make the headlines for their sides in Italy and England.
Seleção captain Cristiano Ronaldo led the way after his goal for Juventus against Sassuolo reportedly saw him become the joint-highest goalscorer of all time. Elsewhere, Manchester City star Bernardo Silva struck twice in the FA Cup – including a memorable effort with his left foot – while youngster Rafael Leão continued his progress with another goal for AC Milan in Serie A.
Ronaldo’s goal, scored during injury time in a 3-1 win over Sassuolo, was his 759th goal for club and country and according to many reports draws him level with Czech legend Josef Bican as the sport’s all-time highest scorer. Ronaldo used a superb first touch to control a long ball and kept his composure to slot past Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
The strike is believed by many to have Ronaldo joint-leader in the record books for most goals in competitive football. Ronaldo is thought to have overtaken Brazilian legend Pele last week, although some sources have the three-time World Cup winner with a slightly higher figure, while Pele himself claims to have in excess of 1200 to his name by including various friendlies and exhibition matches.
However, with Ronaldo and Bican, who played most notably for Slavia Prague, credited with being level on 759 it is only a matter of time before the Portuguese takes leadership of the standings. Various sources offer differing figures, with some claiming Bican has scored 800+ goals in his career, but Ronaldo looks likely to mount a challenge to be undisputed leader on all records given his current form.
Leão scores again
While Juve’s win saw them stay in 4th place in Serie A, leaders AC Milan won again after beating Torino 2-0 at San Siro on Saturday. Portuguese youngster Rafael Leão started as a centre-forward and scored the opener for the Rossoneri, finishing calmly after being fed by Brahim Diaz midway through the first half.
Leão has now scored three goals and registered one assist in his last five matches for Milan, meaning he has covered admirably for the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who replaced the former Sporting man with five minutes left to play this weekend. Milan are three points clear at the top of Serie A with 17 matches played having suffered just one defeat so far this season.
Speaking after the match, Milan coach Stefano Pioli was especially glowing in his praise of his Portuguese striker. “I really liked Rafael Leão tonight, as he is improving in his focus, his concentration, the way he was always in the game tonight. He’s still very young and is learning. He has certain characteristics, so isn’t your traditional centre-forward.
“I think Leão, aside from his potential, was signed at the time to play as a support striker. However, he’s now becoming a more complete player who can vary in different positions, so we are ready to reshuffle when needed.”
For his part, Leão told reporters: “I am glad that I was able to help my team by scoring a goal, but the most important thing was that we got the three points.
“I am closer to the goal when playing as a centre-forward, but I am also happy to provide assists for my teammates. It doesn’t matter where I play, I just want to help.”
Bernardo inspires City cup win
Bernardo Silva appears to be recapturing some form at Manchester City of late and the former Benfica man was the star of the show in a comfortable 3-0 home win over Birmingham City in the FA Cup this weekend.
Bernardo, who missed City’s midweek League Cup win over Manchester United through suspension, scored his first goals of the season at the Etihad Stadium and the opener was a strike to remember. The Portugal man smashed a superb half-volley into the top corner to give City the lead after just eight minutes, and had doubled his and the hosts’ advantage by the 15-minute mark with an easy right-footed finish from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.
Good to see Bernardo Silva re-establishing himself in City’s side of late. A golaço never hurts.pic.twitter.com/1vJAZEkSEE— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) January 10, 2021
Rúben Dias and João Cancelo both started for City, who won for the sixth match in a row as they prepare for a promising fixture list to regain a foot in the Premier League title race. City’s next three matches are all at home: against Brighton, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
By Sean Gillen