AVEIRO, Portugal (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo scored four goals, including two in the first five minutes, to lead European champions Portugal to a 6-0 win over nine-man Andorra in their World Cup qualifier on Friday.
It was the Portugal captain’s fourth hat-trick or his country and the first time he has scored four in an international, taking his tally to 65 goals in 134 appearances.
The win got Portugal off the mark in Group B after a shock 2-0 defeat away to Switzerland in their opening game last month when Ronaldo was missing through injury.
However, they are still three points behind Switzerland, who won 3-2 in Hungary, and also trail the Faroe Islands, who have four points after winning 2-0 in Latvia.
Andorra’s Jordi Rubio was dismissed in the 62nd minute and Marc Rebes followed nine minutes later, both for fouling Ronaldo.
“We knew that the first goal would be really important against a team which puts 11 players behind the ball,” said Ronaldo.
“I know I am important as are all the other players. I have always given everything for the national team, I feel useful and I‘m happy to be back after that injury in the European championship. There are eight games to go and we want to win all eight to go to the World Cup.”
Ronaldo, who had limped off during the Euro 2016 final win over France, opened his account after 73 seconds, driving the ball home after Andorra failed to clear a corner, and then headed home Ricardo Quaresma’s cross in the fourth minute.
Jose Fonte was brilliantly denied by Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes, Andre Silva hit the bar and Ronaldo was close with another header before Joao Cancelo added a third in the 44th.
Ronaldo completed his hat-trick two minutes after halftime when he volleyed in Andre Gomes’ cross and scored his fourth in the 68th after Fonte headed Quaresma’s cross into his path.
Andre Silva added the sixth late on with a deflected shot.
Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Martyn Herman and Ken Ferris