With less than a month to go before Portugal play their first match under new boss Roberto Martinez, the intriguing subject of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Seleção future is propelled by a goal-laden start to his career in Saudi Arabia.
Ronaldo struck a hat-trick on Saturday, meaning he now has eight goals in four matches for Al Nassr. Elsewhere, Beto offered a reminder of his credentials by scoring for Udinese in Italy, while Fábio Silva continues to show a goalscorer’s touch as he settles well at Dutch side PSV.
Cristiano Ronaldo is already joint-4th on the Saudi Pro League top goalscorer charts, despite joining the campaign midway through the season. The Portugal captain recently scored four goals in one game for Al Nassr against Al Wehda, which was followed by two assists in a 2-1 victory over Al Taawon last week.
Al Nassr’s latest encounter saw them travel to mid-table Damak on Saturday evening, and Ronaldo was again the star of the show. Opening the scoring with a clinical penalty after 18 minutes, the former Sporting man doubled his tally for the night with a brilliant touch and left-foot finish. Ronaldo completed a first-half hat-trick a minute before the interval, sweeping in with his right foot after good work by Ayman Yahya.
Portugal play Liechtenstein and Luxembourg in European Championship qualifiers at the end of March, with Ronaldo no doubt expecting to add to his 196 caps and 118 goals for his country.
All Goals Al Nassr 3-0 Damac— FunzBall (@FunzBall) February 26, 2023
⚽ Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick pic.twitter.com/zyPYHiiey9
Beto back in the goals in Italy
Another forward Roberto Martinez will surely be keeping an eye on is Udinese’s striker Beto. The former Portimonense man has been a regular goalscorer in Italian football since his switch to the Bianconeri 18 months ago, and this weekend Beto scored his 8th league goal of the campaign in a 2-2 draw with Spezia.
Udinese came from behind to lead 2-1, before being pegged back by a second-half equaliser at the Dacia Arena. Beto’s goal drew his side level at 1-1 midway through the first period, with the 25-year-old showing great calmness to round goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski and find the net, having been put through by strike partner Isaac Success.
Beto notched an impressive 11 goals in his debut season in the Italian top flight, and is on-course to improve upon the tally with 8 so far this term. His goals see him joint-7th in the race for the league’s top scorer, despite Udinese’s struggle for form which sees them in mid-table after a strong start.
Pure composure from Beto in Italy— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) February 28, 2023
Portugal call-up next month? pic.twitter.com/V5NKfO9bip
Fábio Silva helps PSV to victory
Youngster Fábio Silva appears to be adapting effortlessly to his mid-season loan change. Having spent the first half of the year in Belgium with Anderlecht, the striker cut short his stint in Brussels and moved to the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven at the end of the January transfer window.
Silva came off the bench to score as PSV beat Sevilla 2-0 in the Europa League play-off first leg on Thursday, although the result was not enough to avoid elimination on aggregate. Manager Ruud van Nistelrooij rewarded the ex-Porto man with a place in his line-up for the home clash against Twente in the Dutch league on Sunday, and Silva wasted little time in repaying the faith.
With less than ten minutes on the clock, Silva nodded in a cross from Johan Bakayoko to give PSV an early lead and set them on their way to a 3-1 victory. Silva has now scored three goals from seven appearances, of which six have come as a substitute. Across his two spells with Anderlecht and PSV, Silva has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season.
Fábio Silva is fully settled and scoring for PSV. He has 3 goals in his last 4 appearances.— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) February 27, 2023
The rest: Mane scores on emotional Turkey return
The Turkish Super Lig resumed at the weekend, having been suspended after the devastating earthquake which affected the country and neighbouring Syria. The disaster has claimed the lives of over 50,000 people, including professional footballers, while top-flight club Hatayspor withdrew from the league following the deaths of winger Christian Atsu and sporting director Taner Savut.
The return of football saw some moving moments of tribute and gestures of aid from supporters. On the pitch, Portuguese forward Carlos Mané was among those who scored upon the return to duty. The former Sporting man gave Kayserispor the lead in a 2-1 victory away at Giresunspor.
In France’s Ligue 2, Xande Silva is aiming to help Dijon escape relegation trouble, and his equaliser earned a valuable 2-2 draw at Valenciennes. Across the border in Switzerland, Joël Monteiro scored as Young Boys were held 2-2 at Zurich, while in the Dutch Eredivisie there was a goal for Pedro Marques as NEC ran out 3-0 winners over Volendam.
In Poland’s Ekstraklasa, Leonardo Rocha struck twice to help Radiomak Radom to an impressive 3-1 win at Lechia Gdansk. Meanwhile, in the English National League, Ruben Rodrigues scored his 14th league goal of the season as leaders Notts County surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to Dagenham & Redbridge.
Portuguese were busy in Luxembourg: João Simões bagged a brace as Differdange smashed Etzella Ettelbrück 6-0 at home; Bruno Ramirez got the second to help Fola Esch win 2-0 against Monnerich; Costinha’s scored for Mondorf-les-Bains as they eased past UT Petange, also 2-0.
Finally, in Indonesia Flávio Silva opened the scoring as Persik Kediri recorded a big 5-1 win over Rans Nusantara in Liga 1, while former Sporting academy midfielder Fabinho scored a late penalty to earn Penya Encarnada a 1-1 draw against Sant Julia in Andorra.
By Sean Gillen