Cristiano Ronaldo insists he has "nothing to prove to anyone" after firing Portugal to World Cup 2014 with a stunning hat-trick during a 3-2 win over Sweden in the second-leg of their play-off tie.
The Real Madrid star struck three times in the second half which, added to his goal in the 1-0 first leg win, wrapped up a 4-2 aggregate victory and put him on 47 goals for Portugal, level with Pauleta as the country's joint-top scorer of all time and strengthening his claim to win the 2013 Fifa Ballon d'Or.
And though Ronaldo was delighted for the Seleccao to seal their passage into the finals, he dismissed the significance of matching Pauleta's record, instead asserting that his focus was on delivering on the pitch for his team.
"Records are there to be beaten. It was not a priority," he told Publico. "I knew that Portugal needed me. I do not have to prove anything to anyone. I try to do my work and give answers on the pitch.
"I did my job for my team. It is the team who have to be congratulated. We suffered for sure but that is how great teams win things. We retreated a little [when Sweden scored] but then we played better."
The play-off was touted as a battle for a World Cup spot between two of the world's best players in Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Paris Saint-Germain star struck twice in the second leg to briefly put Sweden ahead on the night after the Madrid icon's opener.
But though Ronaldo ultimately had the last laugh with two more goals in the last 15 minutes, he moved to quash any hype surrounding his individual rivalry with Ibrahimovic.
"I do not compete against Zlatan," he said to TV4. "He is a fantastic player and [the] biggest star in Sweden but I do not compete against him. I play for my team."
The 28-year-old also took to Twitter after the match to congratulate his team on their achievement in qualifying for next summer's tournament, writing: "All together we did it! Brazil is waiting for us!"
Portugal join fellow play-off winners France, Greece and Croatia as the final European entrants to the World Cup, while Ronaldo is only 19 caps away from breaking Luis Figo's landmark of 127 appearances for the national side.