Portugal head coach Fernando Santos believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s four-goal display provides “clear proof” that he is the best player in the world.
Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in European Championship qualifiers with 25 goals after leading Portugal past Lithuania 5-1 on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old superstar was unstoppable in the Euro 2020 Group B qualifying clash in Vilnius, where he celebrated his eighth Portugal hat-trick while improving his international tally to 93 goals.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner among numerous other honours in a remarkable career, Ronaldo’s standing in the game is often debated alongside Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.
But Portugal boss Santos has no doubt as to who the best player in the world is following another memorable Ronaldo display.
“This is the clear and irrevocable proof that he is the best player in the world,” Santos said following the Euro 2020 qualifying rout away from home.
“There is no stadium in the world where Ronaldo is not applauded,” Santos added. “He is the best in the world.
“We went to Paris in my first game, and the hotel in France was just across the street. There were a thousand people at our door.”
Santos continued: “I think it’s strange when he doesn’t score. They say it is ending … Nothing is ending. You have to be careful because it never ends.”
The Ronaldo masterclass began in the seventh minute as he made no mistake from the penalty spot, firing low into the bottom-right corner.
Despite Lithuania pulling a goal back, Ronaldo burst to life in the second with a long-range strike comically fumbled into the net by the opposition goalkeeper on 61 minutes.
The former Real Madrid striker completed his hat-trick four minutes later after sweeping home Bernardo Silva’s cross before the two combined again for Ronaldo’s fourth soon after.
Ronaldo’s 93 Portugal goals put him within touching distance of the international scoring record held by Iran’s Ali Daei, who hit the back of the net 109 times for the Middle East nation.
His next chance to add to his goal tally will come in October as Portugal host Luxembourg and travel to Ukraine as Euro 2020 qualifying continues during the international break.