Cristiano Ronaldo bagged a hat trick to prevent Spain from running away with a victory in a mouthwatering World Cup match played at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, on Friday.
Portugal took the game by the scruff of the neck from start, pegging the Spaniards back into their own half until they were duly rewarded with a penalty after a foul on Ronaldo. The Portugal captain dispatched it into the net in trademark fashion with only four minutes gone out of the clock.
Spain levelled matters 20minutes after, the enigmatic Diego Costa making something out of nothing by ruggedly stealing the ball off Pepe — Portuguese players thought it was a foul — before firing hard and low beyond the reach of Rui Patricio despite the best efforts of two defenders.
Ronaldo restored Portugal’s advantage a minute before half time, firing a low, left-footed at the edge of the box; it was an effort that David de Gea would have effortlessly kept out on a normal day, but this time it squirmed through his hands and ended up in the back of the net.
Once the second half kicked off, Spain wasted no time in regaining parity, again through Diego Costa, 10 minutes into the second half. Defender Nacho put Spain on top for the first time in the match three minutes later with a goal-of-the-tournament contender, half-volleying the ball from distance against the post and into the net.
But it was Ronaldo who had the final laugh. After being fouled on the edge of the penalty area two minutes before the half time, the Real Madrid striker curled home a beauty of a free kick that even opponent de Gea could only admire as it flew into the net.
Portugal will now meet Egypt next, while Spain take on temporary group leaders Iran.