Ronaldo scoreless as Portugal tops Azerbaijan 1-0 in Group A

<p>TURIN, Italy &mdash; Cristiano Ronaldo was held scoreless as Portugal needed an own-goal to defeat Azerbaijan 1-0 in Group A of World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.</p>
<p>The 36th-minute winner came after Azerbaijan goalkeeper Shahruddin Mahammadaliyev tried to punch the ball out of the area and it ricocheted into the net off captain Maksim Medvedev.</p>
<p>Ronaldo’s fruitless evening left him seven goals away from becoming the all-time top scorer for a national team. The record of 109 goals is held by former Iran striker Ali Daei, the only other male soccer player to surpass the 100-goal milestone for a national team.</p>
<p>Ronaldo came close to scoring a couple of times from free kicks. He will get other chances to move closer to the record when Portugal visits Serbia on Saturday and Luxembourg on Tuesday.</p>
<p>The match was held in Turin, Italy, where Ronaldo plays with Juventus, because of the coronavirus situation in Portugal. </p>
<p>Azerbaijan won only one of its last nine World Cup qualifiers — against San Marino in 2017. It lost seven times in that streak.</p>
<p>In the other Group A match, Aleksandar Mitrovic came off the bench to score a pair of second-half goals as Serbia came from behind to defeat Ireland 3-2 in Belgrade. </p>
<p>Alan Browne scored Ireland’s first goal in the 18th and James Collins added the second in the 86th. Dusan Vlahovic put Serbia on the board in the 40th.</p>
<p>The result kept Ireland coach Stephen Kenny winless in his first nine matches in charge of a team trying to make it to the World Cup for the first time since 2002.</p>
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