Ronaldo hat-trick as Portugal come from behind to earn a stalemate against Spain
Written by: Rohan Philip
It was the forward's's 51st career hat-trick, which is also the number of hat-tricks scored in a World Cup.
Perhaps the match of the group stages, Portugal Vs Spain, lived up to the expectations of every football fan that tuned in across the world. As would be expected, the talk revolved around the Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo who stood up and was counted for his country as he has done time and time again.
The game got off to a rapid start when Ronaldo rolled back the years to step over the ball a couple of times before knocking it past his Real Madrid teammate, Nacho who was drafted into the team in place of the injured Dani Carvajal. The Spaniard took down Ronaldo on the edge of the box winning the Portuguese a penalty.
The forward stepped up to put the Portuguese in front. However, the lead lasted a mere 20 minutes before Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa bullied Pepe off the ball to finish well past Rui Patricio in Portugal’s net.
Watch: Portugal 3-3 Spain highlights
Disaster struck for the Spaniards when the seemingly infallible David de Gea let a low shot by Ronaldo past him to give Portugal a lead on the stroke of halftime. The Spanish equalised soon after the break, when a set-piece sequence straight from the training ground paid off as Costa prodded Spain in front from close range.
Spain took the lead soon after when Nacho made up for his error earlier in the game with a sublime volley from outside the box that ricocheted into the goal off the bar. However, the game would ot be over as long as Ronaldo had a say in proceedings. The 33-year-old stood over a free-kick 25-yards from goal in a prime position. He took his traditional run-up, exhaled and proceeded to make history, as he always does. The perfect free-kick left De Gea with no chance as it rocketed into the top corner.
Both teams came into this World Cup on the back of recent success, with Spain being undefeated in 20 games and Portugal having won the 2016 Euros, making group B one of the most exciting in the tournament. hOWEVER, Spain were thrown into disarray just 24 hours prior to the match when the President of the Spanish FA announced that head coach Julen Lopetegui had been relived of his duties after his appointment as the manager of Real Madrid.
Former Spanish player, Fernando Hierro was given charge of the team who were suddenly left with a lot to prove. Ronaldo will be determined to improve on his and Portugal’s success at the Euros, cementing his position as one of the greatest ever.
Earlier in the day Iran beat Morocco to take an early lead in the group, with Spain and Portugal tied in second place. The Iberian neighbours are expected to proceed from the group and if the first game is anything to go by, both look like very strong contenders going forward in the World Cup.
Published: Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:54 AM IST