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Portugal needs Ronaldo to find goals against Hungary

LYON, France (AP) — Underwhelming through two goalless games, Cristiano Ronaldo has another chance to shine.

The Portugal forward has failed get his team going at the European Championship, even missing a penalty late in the 0-0 draw against Austria. But Ronaldo and his teammates still have a chance to reach to the round of 16 when they face Hungary on Wednesday at Stade de Lyon.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened in his career,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “In the past he has gone two or three matches without scoring, and then he would suddenly score a lot of goals, and I am completely convinced that this will happen.”

Ronaldo, his nation’s all-time leading scorer with 58 goals, came to France as the undisputed star of Euro 2016. Only Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic merits a mention when it comes to matching Ronaldo’s attacking talent, scoring totals, or — for better or worse — larger-then-life personality.

But the 31-year-old Ronaldo has yet to produce the goals he scores with such apparent ease while playing for Real Madrid, which just over three weeks ago won the Champions League title. Instead, he showed his childish side when he belittled Iceland’s defensive tactics after they held Portugal to a 1-1 draw in their opening match.

Ronaldo then blew a chance to get back on course on Saturday, when he sent a spot kick off the post with only 11 minutes remaining against Austria.

He said after the match that while he was proud to have surpassed Luis Figo’s national team record with his 128th appearance for Portugal, he was disappointed by how he reached the milestone.

“Obviously I’m a bit sad, because this wasn’t the way I wanted to break this record,” Ronaldo said. “The most beautiful way would have been to win, and we couldn’t, we drew. So it was not how I envisaged it.”

Ronaldo also had to postpone plans to become the first player to score in four different European Championships. After wasting 180 minutes, he may only have 90 minutes left to add that achievement to his long list of awards, which includes three Ballon d’Or trophies.

Group F leader Hungary looks like the perfect opponent for Ronaldo to uncork his scoring potential. But so did Iceland and Austria, only for him to err on all of his 22 shots.

And Hungary has gained in confidence from a strong start to its first major tournament in 30 years. The Hungarians have four points from their opening 2-0 win over Austria and 1-1 draw with Iceland.

Portugal is in third place with two points, the same as second-place Iceland. Austria, which plays Iceland at the same time on Wednesday in Saint-Denis, is in last place with one point but is still in contention for a spot in the round of 16.

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