Cristiano Ronaldo made the most of shambolic Cameroon defending by scoring twice to help his team to a 5-1 friendly win on Wednesday and become Portugal’s all-time leading scorer as the 32 nations taking part in this year’s FIFA World Cup finals tested out their squads in friendlies.
Ronaldo took his international tally to 49, two more than the previous record set by Pauleta, as Portugal ran rings around the Indomitable Lions in a meeting of two finalists for the tournament in Brazil.
“I don’t worry about breaking records, it something that happens naturally, with lots of dedication,” the 29-year-old told RTP television.
Cameroon were level at halftime, but fell apart in the second half as they conceded four goals in a disastrous 18-minute spell.
Portugal went ahead in the 21st minute when Joao Pereira pulled the ball back from near the byline and found Ronaldo, who shimmied past his marker and fired a low shot past Guy Rolland Ndy Assembe to set the new scoring record.
However, the hosts did not have it all their own way and Vincent Abubakar leveled two minutes before the break.
The second half began with both teams on the attack and Assembe made an outstanding save to deny Ronaldo from close range.
However, Cameroon then collapsed after a dreadful mistake by Aurelien Chedjou, who sent an attempted pass out of defense straight to Raul Meireles that the midfielder gratefully accepted to put Portugal back in front in the 65th minute.
Fabio Coentrao added another two minutes later after he was set up by Silvestre Varela and, with Cameroon wide open, Edinho snapped up the fourth in the 77th minute after Essembe could only touch Ronaldo’s shot straight into his path.
Ronaldo completed the scoring in the 83rd minute, firing in a snap shot from 15m after two Cameroon defenders failed to clear the ball.
In another friendly on Wednesday, Barcelona forward Neymar’s hat-trick lit up a powerful Brazil as they demolished South Africa 5-0 in Johannesburg in First National Bank Stadium that hosted the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands.
Home advantage means Brazil are arguably the favorites to win a sixth World Cup this year, but a host of traditional powerhouses will travel to the South American country in June with genuine hopes of gatecrashing the Samba party.
One of these contenders are Germany, who apart from world and European champions Spain are the best bet for a first European victory at a South American edition of world soccer’s top contest. On Wednesday, Germany edged Chile 1-0, as 1998 winners France beat the Netherlands in a 2-0 win that gave a much-needed boost to a side that struggled through the qualifiers.
Bayern Munich striker Mario Goetze was on target for Germany in Stuttgart, while Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema and Blaise Matuidi of Paris Saint-Germain sealed France’s impressive win in Paris.
Pedro Rodriguez scored Spain’s second-half winner in a rematch of the 2012 Euro final that Italy lost 4-0. It was the world champions’ final game before coach Vicente del Bosque names his squad for Brazil.
With time running out for players to seal their places in World Cup squads, Wednesday’s friendlies provided a valuable opportunity for coaches to examine their options.
England manager Roy Hodgson was one of them, although his side labored to a 1-0 win over Denmark, with Daniel Sturridge scoring late to ensure they did not lose three friendly matches.
World Cup dark horses Belgium drew 2-2 with African qualifiers Ivory Coast, for whom Didier Drogba was on target, while Switzerland and Croatia also shared four goals.
Neymar’s Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi had a less impressive night for Argentina in Romania, with the match ending 0-0, while Uruguay were held 1-1 in Austria.
The Ukraine and Russia, currently involved in a tense military standoff in the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, were both in action.
Fabio Capello’s Russia beat Armenia 2-0 in Krasnodar, while the Ukraine, who missed out on qualification, enjoyed a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over the US in a match moved from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv to Larnaca in Cyprus due to the unrest.
First-time World Cup finalists Bosnia suffered a jolt as the lost 2-0 to Egypt in Innsbruck, Austria.
In London, Australia’s Tim Cahill scored twice to become his country’s all-time top goalscorer, although the Socceroos still squandered a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 against Ecuador.
Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea enjoyed victories against New Zealand and Greece respectively.