Portugal overcomes Ronaldo’s absence, beats Azerbaijan 3-0

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Portugal overcame the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo to comfortably defeat Azerbaijan 3-0 and take the lead in its World Cup qualifying group on Tuesday.

Bernardo Silva, André Silva and Diogo Jota scored a goal each for visiting Portugal, which moved three points ahead of Serbia in Group A. The Serbians can return to the top when they visit Ireland later Tuesday.

Ronaldo was serving a suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. He was released from the squad after netting his 110th and 111th goals in Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ireland last week, becoming the men’s all-time top scorer in international soccer. He had been tied with former Iranian striker Ali Daei at 109 goals.

Bernardo Silva opened the scoring from inside the area in the 26th minute by flicking the ball into the top corner with the outside of his left foot. André Silva, playing in Ronaldo’s position up front, added to the lead from close range five minutes later, and Jota sealed the victory with a header in the 75th.

Winless Azerbaijan stayed in last place in the group with one point from five matches. It hosts Ireland in the next round in October.

Serbia will next visit Luxembourg, which is also Portugal’s next opponent.

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