Portugal and Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo produced one of the most spectacular World Cup performances on Friday by scoring a breathtaking hat-trick to deny Spain a crucial win in his country’s opening encounter.
Spain was all set to secure the crucial three points as they led 3-2 until the 88th minute of the game when the charismatic forward pulled off a fantastic swerving set-piece before dispatching it into the top corner of the net. Ronaldo’s hat-trick, which resulted the game in a 3-3 draw also compounded the Spanish woes as the team barely managed to come out of the shocked departure of their coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the World Cup started in Russia.
With his hat-trick, Ronaldo also became the first player to score in eight consecutive major tournaments. His opener came in the fourth minute through penalty kick before former Chelsea striker Diego Costa fired Spain level in the 24th minute. Ronaldo gave his team the lead once again as he scored his second goal in 44th minute. But 11 minutes later, Costa once again took it upon himself to level the score 2-2 for Spain before before Nacho’s thunderbolt gave the Spanish side the much-needed lead in the 58th minute.
They maintained the lead until two minutes from stoppage time, when Ronaldo’s spectacular goal put paid to the Spanish hopes.
Yesterday’s result meant that Spain have now won their opening World Cup match in just two of their last 13 tournaments. On the other hand, Ronaldo is just the fourth player to score in four different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) after Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
Friday’s encounter between Portugal and Spain produced six goals, more than the previous four meetings between Portugal and Spain at major competitions (Euros and World Cup) combined (four goals).
Ronaldo’s sensational performance on Friday came just hours reports suggested that the charismatic striker had reportedly agreed to accept a £16.4m fine and suspended jail term to settle tax evasion charges. The 33-year-old footballer was accused of defrauding tax authorities of 14.8m Euros last year.