NEWS
Friday June 15 2018
Ronaldo hat-trick stuns Spain

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick stunned Spain as the Real Madrid star rescued Portugal a 3-3 draw in an explosive World Cup opener on Friday.

See how this Sochi showdown unfolded with our liveblog!

Diego Costa's brace and a Nacho Fernandez golazo saw Spain come back from two Ronaldo sucker-punches down to lead 3-2, yet the No 7 smashed home a late free kick to share the spoils between the Iberians.

La Roja's preparations for the Russian showpiece were thrown into disarray after Julen Lopetegui's sacking just 24 hours before Thursday's curtain-raiser, so former Madrid defender Fernando Hierro was entrusted with overseeing their campaign.

His first XI saw him play it safe, lining up with David de Gea in goal, Nacho Fernandez and Jordi Alba at full-back and Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in central defence. Further afield, Sergio Busquets and Koke formed a double pivot for David Silva, Isco and Andres Iniesta to support lone striker Diego Costa.

As for Portugal, boss Fernando Santos named just one La Liga-based player in Cristiano Ronaldo up top, as well as ex-Madrid defender Pepe and Goncalo Guedes, who impressed on loan at Valencia last season.

The two nations had met on 35 previous occasions, with Spain winning 17 of them, among them a 1-0 victory over the Selecao at the last-16 stage of Brazil 2010. They also launched a joint-bid to host the 2018 World Cup and were only pipped to the post by Russia.

Just four minutes in, Nacho clipped Ronaldo in the box and his Blancos clubmate blasted the penalty to the right of David de Gea’s goal.

The Seleccao should’ve doubled their lead through Guedes, but he needlessly took a touch from Ronaldo’s pullback, and that was the cue for Costa to shake off Pepe from a cross-field pass, before giving Jose Fonte the run-around and slotting the ball into Rui Patricio’s bottom left.

Moments later, Isco’s thunderbolt crashed the bar and bounce on the line, yet a moment for Spain and De Gea to forget saw the goalkeeper spill Ronaldo’s daisy-cutter, which squirmed over the line.

Nonetheless, Hierro’s troops were able to equalise through Costa, who threw himself on to the end of the free kick via a flick-on, lifting a finish over Rui Patricio.

Nacho went one better, redeeming himself with an absolute belter as he fizzed a volley in off the post from some way out.

Costa looked to have been at the right place at the right time for his hat-trick and Spain’s fourth goal, when he met a low cross from the left, but the Atletico Madrid striker dragged his first-time finish wide of the target.

It was left to Ronaldo to claim the match ball as he bent an unstoppable free kick over the wall and into De Gea’s top-right corner for not only his 51st career treble but also the World’s Cup’s 51st.

Portugal 3-3 Spain

Ronaldo pen 4, 44, 88 (P) Costa 24, 55, Nacho 58 (S)

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; William, Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes (Joao Mario 68); Bernardo (Quaresma 69), Ronaldo, Guedes (Andre Silva 80)

Spain: De Gea; Nacho, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke; David Silva (Vazquez 86), Isco, Iniesta (Thiago 70); Costa (Aspas 77)

Referee: Rocchi (ITA)

See the latest La Liga predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk

Football Italia website