Football star Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday surpassed Brazilian great Pele's 77 international goals to move joint-fourth on the all-time list of most International goals. Portugal captain achieved the feat during the World Cup qualifier clash against Faroe Islands, where he struck his fifth international hat-trick, including a spectacular volleyed opener, to lead the European champions to a 5-1 win over their opponents. The 32-year-old took his haul in the current qualifying campaign to 14 goals in seven games and his overall tally to 78 in 144 international appearances, surpassing Pele's record.
This was Ronaldo's fifth hat-trick for Portugal. His last four came against Northern Ireland, Armenia, Sweden and Andorra.
The win left the Portuguese in second place with 18 points from seven games in Group B. Leaders Switzerland are three points clear after beating Andorra 3-0 in a game interrupted by rain. Third-placed Hungary beat Latvia 3-1 to reach 10 points.
The group winners qualify for the World Cup in Russia while the eight best second-placed teams in the nine groups go into a playoff round, with the Swiss having guaranteed at least runners-up spot.
Ronaldo needed three minutes to open his account when he met Bernardo Silva's cross with an acrobatic volley at the far post.
"I've been looking to score a goal like that for a while," he said. "That sort of goal was missing from my career and now I've done it. It was a nice move."
Ronaldo doubled the lead in the 29th, sending Gunnar Nielsen the wrong way with a penalty after Joao Mario was tripped by Roaldur Jakobsen, and nearly completed a hat-trick when his low shot was turned away by the Faroes' goalkeeper.
(With inputs from Reuters)