CRISTIANO RONALDO has endured a mixed week – but can break a staggering five World Cup records in Qatar.
The Portugal forward, 37, was axed by Manchester United on Tuesday with his £500,000-a-week contract ripped up seven months early.
But he put that aside with his penalty in the 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday as the first free agent to appear at the World Cup since 2010.
At 37, surely this is his final global tournament – but that will not stop the unemployed veteran desperately trying to make his mark in the Middle East.
Two of the records Ronaldo was eyeing heading into the tournament were ticked off against Ghana.
By starting the match, he became just the fifth man to appear in five World Cups, having made his debut way back in 2006.
Ronaldo joined Mexican duo Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Marquez as well as German icon Lothar Matthaus and his great rival Lionel Messi.
But one record he now has over Messi at the World Cup is the number of tournaments he has scored at.
The Argentine’s penalty against Saudi Arabia ensured he has scored at four of those five World Cups – the same number as Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
But while he failed to find the net in South Africa 12 years ago, Ronaldo has had no such trouble and therefore his goal against the Black Stars saw him become the first man to score at five World Cups.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner will not be able to match Matthaus’ haul of 25 World Cup matches.
He went into 2022 with 17 appearances – so even reaching the final and featuring in all seven possible ties would leave him one short of the record.
Messi, though, could snatch it outright if he plays in every game including the final.
Ronaldo, though, already holds the record for the most World Cup appearances for a Portuguese player.
And another goal in this tournament would see him draw level with Portugal legend Eusebio on nine World Cup goals – two more and he holds the national record.
However, it would take a truly sensational month for Ronaldo to get the overall World Cup record.
Klose leads the way on 16, double the number Ronaldo has managed so far.
Messi, meanwhile, has seven goals in 20 World Cup matches for Argentina, three shy of Gabriel Batistuta’s tally.