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France face Germany as Ronaldo makes history in Portugal victory at Euro 2020


Paris (AFP) – Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time top European Championship goal-scorer with a brace as reigning champions Portugal got their Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning start on Tuesday, beating Hungary 3-0 in Budapest before world champions France faced Germany in a heavyweight clash.

Ronaldo netted his 10th and 11th goals at European Championships to surpass the previous record of nine held by France legend Michel Platini.

It was the perfect start for Portugal prior to Germany and France kicking off in a huge game in the same Group F in Munich later.

The holders, who appear to have a much stronger squad than when they won their first major title five years ago, laboured for long periods in Budapest.

But Raphael Guerreiro made the breakthrough in the 84th minute and Ronaldo slammed in a penalty shortly afterwards before tapping home in injury time.

The 36-year-old has now scored at five different European Championship finals tournaments and has 106 goals for his country in total, leaving him just three goals away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.

“I am really grateful to the team for helping me to score twice and be named man of the match,” Ronaldo said.

He broke the record before by far the biggest crowd of the tournament so far, with Budapest the only Euro 2020 venue not to limit fan capacity due to Covid-19.

The Puskas Arena has a capacity of almost 68,000 fans.

“We didn’t deserve a 3-0 defeat, with a bit of luck it could have been a point each, but it was an experience of a lifetime,” said Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

– ‘All-time great’ clash –

In Munich, reigning world champions France were facing a Germany side eager to make up for their desperate showing at the last World Cup in Russia, when they were knocked out in the group stage.

Les Bleus come into the tournament as firm favourites thanks to their status as World Cup holders and after coach Didier Deschamps decided to recall Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema from a five-and-a-half-year international exile.

France lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro but are unbeaten in the five meetings between the sides since, including a 2-0 win in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

“This fixture brings back happy memories and not so happy memories,” said France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris. “It is one of the all-time great major tournament fixtures.”

Germany are under pressure to perform in front of a home support at Munich’s Allianz Arena as they come into their final tournament under coach Joachim Loew, who will stand down after the finals following 15 years in charge.

“The spirit is very good and the team is hungry for success. That makes me confident and allows me to sleep peacefully,” Loew said.

In stark contrast to Budapest, authorities in Munich are only allowing around 14,500 fans into the Allianz Arena for games, equivalent to about 20 percent of capacity.

– Eriksen: ‘I’m fine’ –

Meanwhile in Copenhagen Christian Eriksen continued his recovery following his collapse in Denmark’s opening game against Finland last Saturday.

On Tuesday Inter Milan midfielder Eriksen published a photo of his tired but smiling face from his hospital bed.

“I’m fine — under the circumstances, I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay,” he wrote in a post on Instagram accompanying a photo of him smiling and giving a thumbs-up while lying in bed.

Instagram was also the place where Austria’s Marko Arnautovic penned his apology after insulting North Macedonia players in Sunday’s victory, but despite his mea culpa UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings into his behaviour in Bucharest.

Wednesday will see the first of the second round of group games, with Russia hosting Finland in Saint Petersburg before Turkey take on Wales in Baku and Italy face Switzerland in Rome.

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