It was a night Cristiano Ronaldo designed and decorated. The Portuguese and Real Madrid superstar scored a hat-trick as Spain and Portugal shared honours in the World Cup’s fourth game at the Fisht Stadium.
Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 4th minute of affairs after he was brought down in the box by Real Madrid teammate Nacho Fernandez. Referee from Italy Gianlucca Rocchi immediately pointed to the spot.
After shrugging off a challenge from Portugal defender Pepe, Costa got himself into the box and fired past Rui Patricio. Spain continued to keep possession, only allowing the Portugal frontline of Ronaldo, Guedes and Bernardo Silva crumbs of the ball.
Spain were then punished in the 44th minute after an embarrassing howler from Man United keeper David De Gea. Ronaldo latched onto a pass from Guedes about 22 yards out of the Spanish goal and fired. But what should have been a comfortable save for De Gea actually saw the ball bouncing off a knew and then past the keeper. Half time was soon to come.
Incursion after incursion from Spain did not yield results. Portugal had Joao Mario and Quaresma on for Fernandes and Silva respectively.
Spain threw on Alcantara, Aspas and Real winger Vazquez. But just when it seemed like the story was written, a long ball from the Portuese half found Ronaldo. The striker whose back was turned to the Spanish goal was fouled by Gerard Pique. Referee whistled for a foul about 30 yards out of goal.
Only one man was going to take for Portugal as Ronaldo stood over the ball. He did his signature steps back and heavy breaths out and his was firmly on goal. Somehow, everyone knew it.
Ronaldo curled an unstoppable shot past the human wall and straight into the net. De Gea was scrambling to no good. Ronaldo is now the fourth player to have scored in four World Cups after Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Pele. The Portugal captain is also the second after Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan to have scored in 8 consecutive tournaments.