Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 103rd goal of his international career to help Portugal come from behind and beat an inspired Luxembourg in Group A.
The 36-year-old had a perfectly good goal chalked off in the 2-2 draw with Serbia on Sunday, but he wasn't to be denied as Portugal survived a scare at the Stade Josy Barthel.
The hosts - on a high after defeating the Republic of Ireland three days earlier - started well and took a shock lead in the 30th-minute and it was their match winner from Sunday, Gerson Rodrigues, who broke the deadlock. The Dynamo Kyiv midfielder was left unmarked to glance Danel Sinani's whipped cross into the net with a stooped header.
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Ronaldo hits hat-trick during Portugal rout of Luxembourg
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The setback sparked a reaction from the visitors and just moments after Ronaldo spurned a glorious opportunity, Diogo Jota's cushioned header brought the scores level on the stroke of half-time, with substitute Pedro Neto - who replaced the injured Joao Felix - grabbing the assist.
The reigning European champions completed the turnaround five minutes after the restart when Ronaldo was perfectly positioned to tap in from Joao Cancelo's left-flank cross.
The Juventus forward was then repelled by goalkeeper Anthony Moris in a one-on-one situation before Joao Palhinha met Neto's corner delivery with a downward header to secure the points. Luxembourg had defender Maxime Chanot sent off for a second bookable offence late on.
The victory moves Portugal top of the group with seven points, ahead of Serbia on goal difference, who defeated Azerbaijan 2-1 earlier on Tuesday.
TALKING POINT - Ronaldo scored once but could he have had a hat-trick?
Portugal will have more comfortable nights. It is no exaggeration to say they were second best for large parts of the first-half, certainly until the hosts took the lead, at least, when Luxembourg - ranked 98th in the world - naturally dropped deeper.
Ronaldo will be relieved to get off the mark in this qualification campaign but on another night he may have had a hat-trick. You got the feeling it wasn't going to be Portugal's night when - at 1-0 to Luxembourg - the 36-year-old, left unmarked, connected with a cross with shoulder rather than head to balloon the ball over the bar.
Inching closer to Iran's Ali Daei's record of 107 international strikes, it seems Ronaldo's desperation for goals has gone up a notch while playing in the colours of Portugal. And while he managed to stick one away, you would have expected him to score again when presented with a one-on-one chance following a misplaced pass in the Luxembourg defence. Perhaps making history is playing a little bit too much on his mind.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Pedro Neto (Portugal)
Four minutes after coming on for the injured Joao Felix, the Wolves winger had an assist to his name. He immediately injected a spark that had been missing for the 41 minutes he wasn't involved in, and grabbed another assist for Portugal's third.
Luxembourg: Moris 6, Jans 5, Chanot 5, Gerson 5, Pinto 5, Martins Pereira 5, O Thill 5, Barreiro Martins 5, V Thill 5, Rodrigues 7, Sinani 7.. subs: Deville 5, S Thill 5, Martins 5, Muratovic N/A, Skenderovic N/A.
Portugal: Lopes 6, Cancelo 7, Fonte 7, Dias 6, Mendes 6, Neves 6, Sanches 7, B Silva 7, Joao Felix 5, Ronaldo 7, Jota 8.. subs: Neto 9, R Silva 6 Palhinha 7, Oliveira N/A.
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30 ' - GOAL! Luxembourg 1-0 Portugal (Gerson Rodrigues): Rodrigues has done it again! After scoring the winner against the Republic of Ireland, the Dynamo Kyiv midfielder opens the scoring against Portugal! It's a lovely cross delivered by Sinani and he gets the slightest touch to divert his stooped header past Lopes! Is there a massive upset on the cards here?!
45' - Chance for Ronaldo! The veteran gets in behind his marker to meet a cross unmarked. You'd put your mortgage on him scoring but he connects with shoulder rather than head and the ball balloons over the bar!
45'+ 1 - GOAL! Luxembourg 1-1 Portugal (Diogo Jota): Portugal make their pressure pay! Jota scores his third goal in four days with a cushioned header from Neto's pin-point cross to level the scores just before half-time.
50 ' - GOAL! Luxembourg 1-2 Portugal (Cristiano Ronaldo): Portugal lead and who else but Cristiano Ronaldo gets it! He's perfectly positioned to tap home with the side of the boot from Cancelo's cross. That's his 103rd goal of his international career.
78' - How has Ronaldo not scored?! The Juve forward cannot quite believe his luck as Martins' blind pass sees him through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. But he's repelled not one but twice by Moris. And when Ronaldo finally does have the ball in the back of the net a moment later, he's flagged offside.
81' - GOAL! Luxembourg 1-3 Portugal (Joao Palhinha): Job done for Portugal! Neto whips a corner to the near post and Palhinha grabs his side's third with a superb downward header.
87' - Red card! Chanot is given his marching orders after blocking off the run of Sanches. It's a second booking and off he goes. Luxembourg down to 10.
Diogo Jota has scored 14 goals in his last 23 appearances for Liverpool and Portugal combined since mid-October - once every 98 minutes on average.
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World Cup Qualification UEFA
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