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Cristiano Ronaldo becomes 1st player to play at 6 European Championships as Portugal starts with win

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo raises a fist after a Group F match between Portugal and Czech Republic at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, June 18, 2024 (Robert Michael / dpa via AP) Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo raises a fist after a Group F match between Portugal and Czech Republic at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, June 18, 2024 (Robert Michael / dpa via AP)
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LEIPZIG, Germany -

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to feature at six European Championship tournaments when he captained Portugal to a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in their opening game on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Ronaldo, who made his tournament debut at Euro 2004 where Portugal reached the final, already had the records for the most goals (14) at the tournament, while he extended his appearance record to 26 games. He helped Portugal win the title at Euro 2016.

He warmed up for this edition with two goals as Portugal defeated Ireland 3-0 in its final preparation games.

“Another chapter in our history begins today,” Ronaldo wrote on X before the match. “I fondly remember my first day with the national team, a journey full of challenges and victories. Now I have the honour of being alongside a team of champions, full of talent and determination. With everyone’s strength and support, we’re turning dreams into reality. Together let’s fight for another triumph. United, we’re unstoppable.”

He was stopped by Czech goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek on Tuesday. Stanek pulled off a string of saves to thwart the Portuguese — and Ronaldo in particular — who dominated the game with nearly three quarters of the ball possession.

Ronaldo was a threat throughout and earned praise from Czech coach Ivan Hasek after the match.

“It’s really incredible that at his age he is this dangerous and fruitful in every game. He really showed his qualities,” Hasek said. “Hats off to him, he’s one of the best of all time.”

Ronaldo was the joint-top scorer at Euro 2020 with five goals — the same as Czech forward Patrik Schick, who also played Tuesday. Ronaldo previously scored against the Czech Republic at the 2008 and 2012 editions of the tournament.

Altogether, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has 130 goals in 208 games for Portugal since making his debut as an 18-year-old under Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in August 2003.

Ronaldo just finished the club season setting a goal-scoring record 35 goals in the Saudi Pro League for runner-up Al-Nassr. He had an action-packed season, with four hat tricks and one red card. He was also suspended for an obscene gesture in February at Al-Shabab fans who were chanting longstanding rival Lionel Messi’s name.

Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in January 2023 after an acrimonious exit from Manchester United while he was at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was his second stint at the English club after successful spells at Juventus and Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League four times. He also won it in 2008 in his first stint at United.

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