Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Portugal fought back from behind three times to draw Hungary 3-3 in a pulsating Group F match at the European Championship here on Wednesday.
The Real Madrid super star also made history by becoming the first player to score in four European Championships.
Hungary topped the group with one win and two draws thanks to superior goal difference against Iceland and Portugal finished third with three draws, setting up a clash against Croatia. Iceland sent Austria packed 2-1 in the day’s other match.
Fernando Santos, the Portugal manager, was full of praise of Ronaldo after the match.
“This is what Cristiano is all about. He has to score because he’s a winner. He plays up front and feeds on goals. This game increased his confidence levels. He’s a confident and determined player, but this will increase his confidence for the game against Croatia.”
Hungary coach Bernd Storck also said that Ronaldo has made the difference between the two teams.
“We know Cristiano Ronaldo is a world-class player. He also could’ve scored in the first two games. My team have learned from every game. We played a very high-level opponent and the team is developing from game to game in this Euro. We’re very happy.”
After being held by Iceland and Austria in their first two matches, Portugal need at least a draw to qualify from the group. But they found themselves behind only 19 minutes into the first half.
Zoltan Gera opened the scoring with a half-volley from 25 meters, leaving Portugal keeper Rui Patricio to have no chance.
The 37-year-old midfielder became the second oldest player ever to score at a European Championship.
Portugal responded three minutes before the interval when Nani fired in a powerful low left-footed strike into the bottom-left corner after receiving a through ball by Ronaldo.
Hungary were in front again in the 47th minute as skipper Balazs Dzsudzsak’s free-kick deflected off Andre Gomes before flying into the net.
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Ronaldo made it 2-2 three minutes later, flicking in Joao Mario’ s cross past Kiraly from close range.
Dzsudzsak put Hungary ahead 3-2 in the 50th minute, producing a curling finish via a deflection off Nani.
Ronaldo came to the rescue again in the 62nd minute, jumping highest to nod home Ricardo Quaresma’s cross to level the score at 3-3.
“We wanted to finish in first place – that’s what we had in mind, to move on,” Santos said. “But not like this. Over these three matches, we did more than enough to finish in first place. After the first two matches, I said the team was playing well but couldn’t score. Today was the opposite. We managed to attack and managed to score, and had other chances. In terms of defence, we weren’t as tight.”