June 15, 2018
One of the most eagerly anticipated games of the opening days of the 2018 World Cup did not disappoint as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hattrick, made history and earned Portugal a draw in an enthralling contest against a Spain side eager to put a tumultuous week behind them.
Brilliant Ronaldo rescues Portugal in thriller
The Real Madrid star, aiming to lead his country to glory in what is likely to be his final World Cup, scored from a fourth-minute penalty which he himself earned and put Portugal ahead once again after Spain goalkeeper David de Gea carelessly allowed his long-range effort to slip through his fingers.
But with Spain leading 3-2 with just minutes remaining thanks to a Diego Costa brace and a superb 30-yard effort from Nacho, Ronaldo stepped up to magically curl a freekick into the top corner to pull his country back from the brink of defeat.
It should come as no surprise that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, scorer of 43 goals for Real Madrid this season and widely regarded as one of the greatest to have played the game, etched his name in the history books in the process -- becoming the first man to score in eight consecutive major tournaments and only the fourth to score in four separate World Cups.
It was also the 51st hattrick scored at a World Cup -- and the 51st of the forward's glorious career.
The result puts Group B -- currently topped by Iran who beat Morocco 1-0 earlier Friday -- in the balance, though both Portugal and Spain will be expected to progress to the knockout stages.
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