World Cup: Cristiano Ronaldo Nets 51st Career Hat-Trick As Portugal And Spain Serve Up Outstanding 3-3 Draw (Photos & Video)

Alan Duffy

15th, June 2018


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Iberian rivals Spain and Portugal produced an absolute stone-cold classic World Cup clash on Friday night, with Cristiano Ronaldo once again the star of a hugely entertaining show.

Ronaldo put the Portuguese ahead after just four minutes, calmly converting from the penalty spot after he had been felled in the box by Real Madrid team-mate Nacho.

Spain, under new boss Fernando Hierro, soon got a grip on the game, with Isco and David Silva pulling the strings.

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However, it was Diego Costa who would level the scores on 24, courtesy of a superb solo goal which saw the ex-Chelsea man twist and turn the Portuguese defence before firing past Rui Patricio.

Costa did look to have fouled Pepe in the build-up, courtesy of a flailing arm, although the defender went to ground far too easily.

While Spain bossed possession, Portugal always looked a threat on the break, although young PSG attacker Gonçalo Guedes failed to make the most of a couple of promising attacks.

The second goal would still come for Fernando Santos’ side just before the break, with David De Gea of all people making a total mess of a rather humdrum Ronaldo effort from outside box.

In the second-half, the Spaniards upped the tempo and got themselves level for the second time, with Costa again getting on the scoresheet, this time after converting a Sergio Busquets knock-down from close-range.

Just before the hour-mark, Spain made their dominance count, with Nacho making up for his penalty foul by thumping home the crispest of strikes which flew in off the inside the post.

Portugal were starting to look leggy now, as Spain looked set to secure what looked like a deserved victory.

However, with Ronaldo in your side, you always have a chance and on 88 minutes, after being fouled by Gerard Piqué, the superstar dusted himself off before producing the most outstanding free-kick to complete his hat-trick.

That goal was Ronaldo’s first-ever from a direct free-kick at either a World Cup or Euro finals, coming with his 45th attempt from a free-kick at those tournaments. If at first you don’t succeed…

The monumental clash would end all-square, with the Spanish no doubt the less happy of the two sides.

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Spain produced some magnificent football which boes well for their tournament overall, but in Ronaldo, Portugal have a player capable of anything.

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That hat-trick was, incredibly, Ronaldo’s 51st for club and country, as well as being the 51st scored at a World Cup.

The draw sees Iran the unlikley leaders of Group B, courtesy of their dramatic 1-0 win over Morocco. However, both Spain and Portugal should still quality for the last 16.

Four games in and we’ve already had a 5-0 mauling, two late winners and a classic heavyweight encounter. This is shaping up to be quite a World Cup! (cue four 0-0s on Saturday).

(Table: BBC)