Ronaldo and Klose dominate countries' top-scorer charts

Ronaldo and Klose dominate countries' top-scorer charts

Cristiano Ronaldo erased and Miroslav Klose equalled the records of two of the great goal-scoring legends this weekend. On the one hand, that is fair and reasonable, because it is an immutable law of sport - of life - that records are there to be broken. On the other, there is a tinge of sadness, an impulse to preserve the heroes of yesteryear in nostalgia.

And so when Ronaldo, 28, struck his hat-trick in the 4-2 win over hosts Northern Ireland on Friday night, it came with mixed feelings. His two headers, and then a trademark free kick driven through the smallest of gaps in the defensive wall, won a World Cup qualifier that Portugal were in danger of losing.

Typical of Ronaldo, he brooded for an hour and then, Heaven knows how such a big man does it, he freed himself from his opponents who knew that he was the best talent, and therefore the biggest danger on the field.

His first header, from eight metres, equalled the tally of 41 goals set in 1973 by Eusebio. A near-identical header some moments later meant that no Portuguese national has ever scored as often as Ronaldo. His free kick was hit flat and straight through a hole created by two colleagues who had infiltrated the Irish wall, and ducked at the precise time the ball was struck. Simple goals, for a magician.

Goals Nos. 41, 42 and 43 are, very likely, just milestones along Ronaldo's unfinished career path. Goals that leave no argument in the statistical sense about Portugal's record accumulator.

Where we might still split hairs is the fact that Eusebio the "Black Pearl" had considerably fewer games to build up his record. His prime was at the 1966 World Cup in England, and his national team span was 64 games for those 41 goals. Ronaldo has played 106 times for Portugal.

And, if you are wondering, Luis Figo represented the country 127 times, and netted 32 goals. To put some flesh on those numbers, Eusebio stood 1.75 metres, Figo 1.81 and Ronaldo 1.86.

So they get taller as the years roll by, and the game they play gets faster and often more cynical about how to stop the greats from scoring. That said, Eusebio was a most mercurial team player. He was the heart and soul of Portugal even though his birthplace was Lourenco Marques (now Maputo, the capital city of the Republic of Mozambique. It became independent from Portuguese rule shortly after Eusebio finished playing). History lesson over, except to concede that history is essential to the appreciation of football.

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