Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo's best international goals - ranked

Jamie Spencer
Mar 27, 2021, 4:30 PM GMT
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored over 100 international goals for Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored over 100 international goals for Portugal | Gualter Fatia/Getty Images
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Cristiano Ronaldo is the only male European to have reached a century of international goals and is gunning to soon become the top scorer of all time in men’s international football.

Ronaldo got his very first senior goal for Portugal way back in 2004 and reached the 50th goal milestone a decade later in 2014. But the five-time Ballon d’Or has supercharged his output since then and scored the second 50 in just over six years.

Only a minority of his international goals (less than 20%) have come in friendlies, with over 60 in competitive qualifiers and more than 20 in major tournaments.

Here’s a summary of Ronaldo’s top 15 international goals, counting down to the best.

15. Vs. Wales, 2016

Ronaldo impossibly hung in the air to score his Euro 2016 header against Wales
Ronaldo impossibly hung in the air to score his Euro 2016 header against Wales | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Euro 2016 semi-final

Ronaldo has long been known for the incredible hang-time he manages when attacking crosses with his head. That was evident when he scored the opening goal of Portugal’s Euro 2016 semi-final win over Wales, seeming to stay in the air in defiance of the laws of physics.

14. Vs. Lithuania, 2019

Ronaldo curled in a first-time effort against Lithuania
Ronaldo curled in a first-time effort against Lithuania | Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Euro 2020 qualifying

Clinical is the best description of this goal as Portugal thrashed Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying and Ronaldo hurtled towards an international century.

His team won the ball high up the pitch and, as it was fed into his path on the edge of the penalty area, Ronaldo needed no time to set himself and curled it first time into the far corner. Overall, he scored seven times in just two games against Lithuania in that campaign.

13. Vs. Switzerland, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo used stepovers to create space for the shot | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

UEFA Nations League semi-final

Ronaldo’s hat-trick goal against Switzerland in June 2019 sealed Portugal’s place in the first ever UEFA Nations League final by wrapping up a 3-1 win that wasn’t secure until late on.Jus

It was a classic counterattacking goal, which featured trademark Ronaldo stepovers to beat the last defender, cut inside and fire low across goal. Portugal later went on to win the final against Netherlands and lift a second international trophy in three years.

12. Vs. Greece, 2004

Euro 2004 group stage

Portugal were stunned by shock eventual champions Greece in the opening game of Euro 2004 on home soil, yet it was a game that produced Ronaldo’s first senior international goal.

He was only 19 at the time and was still just considered a flashy winger with little in the way of physical strength. But he showed a side of his game that would come to be huge over the years that followed and rose highest to meet the ball in a crowded penalty area and send a bullet header goalward.

11. Vs. Sweden, 2013

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo sent Portugal to the 2014 World Cup with four goals against Sweden | Martin Rose/Getty Images

2014 World Cup qualifying

Billed as a head to head battle with Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a place at the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldo scored four times over two legs against Sweden in a qualifying playoff.

His decisive hat-trick goal in the second leg highlighted movement, pace and vision, with Ronaldo making a diagonal run towards the middle of the pitch to latch onto a through ball, taking it away from the path of the defenders and firing high above the goalkeeper diving at his feet.

10. Vs. Armenia, 2015

Ronaldo was unstoppable against Armenia in 2015
Ronaldo was unstoppable against Armenia in 2015 | AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Euro 2016 qualifying

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in this 3-2 Portugal win away in Armenia, with the pick of the bunch of the long-range stunner that saw him flash the ball into the top corner from 25 yards.

9. Vs. Kazakhstan, 2006

Euro 2008 qualifying

Ronaldo was well on the way to becoming the best player in the world in 2006 and a driving run and venomous strike from range against Kazakhstan in a Euro 2008 qualifier precisely showcased the explosiveness that characterised his game at that stage of his career.

When he built up a head of steam like that, he was near impossible to stop.

8. Vs. Faroe Island, 2016

2018 World Cup qualifying

This was a left-footed drive across the goalkeeper rising into the top corner, but what made this goal stand out was the improvised control that put the ball in the right place to strike it.

A one-two engineered the space, but the return pass to Ronaldo was slightly behind him. Instead of breaking his overall stride pattern, he adjusted his body to let the ball roll across him to control, setting the chance and then striking.

7. Vs. Slovakia, 2005

Ronaldo's trademark free-kick style soon became iconic
Ronaldo's trademark free-kick style soon became iconic | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

2006 World Cup qualifying

Ronaldo’s first international goal after turning 20 was a trademark free-kick dispatched against Slovakia in Lisbon. With a stance that would soon become iconic, he stood over the ball with legs apart, stepped up and…back of the net.

6. Vs. Luxembourg, 2019

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo lobbed the goalkeeper against Luxembourg in 2019 | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Euro 2020 qualifying

A mistake in possession was what created this chance for Ronaldo as he closed down Luxembourg’s last defender. But rather than try to take the ball round the goalkeeper or blast his shot, Ronaldo saw the opportunity to pull off a lob, getting impressive height to lift it over the keeper.

5. Vs. Spain, 2018

Ronaldo got the ball up and and down over the wall to complete a hat-trick and score his 84th Portugal goal
Ronaldo got the ball up and and down over the wall to complete a hat-trick and score his 84th Portugal goal | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

2018 World Cup group stage

Ronaldo scored his first World Cup hat-trick in a group stage game against Spain in 2018. The third was a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area that saw him get impressive dip on the ball to send it over the wall and still drop just below the crossbar.

This also happened to be the goal that saw Ronaldo equal Ferenc Puskas as Europe’s all-time leading international goalscorer on 84. He then broke the record five days later.

4. Vs. Russia, 2004

A young Ronaldo scored a banger against Russia in 2004
A young Ronaldo scored a banger against Russia in 2004 | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

2006 World Cup qualifying

Ronaldo’s first ever international brace came against Russia in a qualifying game for the 2006 World Cup and including a stonking drive from distance. The teenager carried the ball infield from the left flank, before unleashing an unstoppable strike at goal.

3. Vs. Denmark, 2011

Ronaldo scored a free-kick against Denmark from 40 yards
Ronaldo scored a free-kick against Denmark from 40 yards | Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Euro 2012 qualifying

Portugal very rarely don’t win when Ronaldo scores, but a Euro 2012 qualifier against Denmark is one of the occasions it has happened. That being said, he still marked the 2-1 defeat with a marvellous strike, launching a free-kick from around 40 yards out into the top corner.

2. Vs. Faroe Islands, 2017

Portugal v Faroe Islands - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Ronaldo pulled off a scissor kick against Faroe Islands | Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

2018 World Cup qualifying

Ronaldo went for the acrobatic early on in this World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands, pulling away at the back post and leaping into a spectacular scissor kick.

He went on to score a hat-trick in the 5-1 win for Portugal, which took his tally of international goals to 78 and surpassed the legendary Pele’s international haul.

1. Vs. Hungary, 2016

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's backheel flick was vital en-route to winning Euro 2016 | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Euro 2016 group stage

Ronaldo had failed to score with 20 shots in his first two games at Euro 2016, but his first goal of the tournament was very special when it did come.

Portugal were behind when Ronaldo met a cross in the penalty area and deftly flicked it with a backheel into the far corner of the goal. He later equalised again in the 3-3 draw and without those goals, eventual champions Portugal would have been knocked out at the group stage.

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