Cristiano Ronaldo scored a magnificent hat-trick on Friday to rescue a point for Portugal against Spain in the dying minutes as the World Cup in Russia caught alight.
Ronaldo’s 51st career hat-trick in the 3-3 draw cancelled out two goals from Diego Costa and a strike from Nacho just as Spain looked like putting their chaotic week behind them with a morale-boosting win.
Cristiano Ronaldo produced one of the great World Cup performances as his dramatic late free-kick earned Portugal a draw with Spain in a classic encounter in Sochi.
The Real Madrid forward’s 88th-minute swerving set-piece soared into the top corner to deny the Spanish a much-needed victory at the end of what has been a painful week for them in the south of Russia.
Before this match, Ronaldo had scored only three times from 13 World Cup games. His return still doesn’t make for Ronaldo-like reading – six in 14 – but with the opening goal, he became the fourth player to score in four separate World Cups, joining Germans Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler and Brazil legend Pele.
And the Portuguese is now also the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major tournaments in a streak going back to Euro 2004.
In an interview, the elated footballer said:
“I’m very happy, it is a personal best [the hat-trick], one more in my career and the most important thing is to highlight what the team has done.
“We have played one of the favourite teams to win the World Cup, we have been winning twice and drew and I think it was a fair result. The game was about to end and we managed to equalise so we are happy. Now we have to think about the next match, it is going to be hard, but our goal is to win and to move on from the group stage.
“Portugal is going to start moving through the group stage, we know it is going to be hard, and have to think match by match. We are not the favourites so we will try to do our best. The team is doing very well and we are going to do well for sure.”