– Ronaldo hits 51st career HATRICK
Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 51st hatrick to help Portugal secure an important 3-3 draw against former world Champions, Spain in the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup holding in far away Russia.
The much anticipated game watched by a capacity crowd at the Saint Petersburg stadium got up to a spectacular start with an early first goal from the Portugese skipper and reigning FIFA World footballer of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo from the penalty spot in the fourth minute after being tripped in the eighteen yard danger area by Spain defender, Nacho.
The Spanish team responded almost immediately after series of fluid passes in the midfield area as they got rewarded in the 25th minute following an equaliser from Striker Diego Costa, even though replay showed he fouled Portuguese defender, Pepe prior to scoring the goal.
However, Portugal regained the lead in the 44th minute of play just before the game headed into half time following another beautiful left-footed strike by Cristiano Ronaldo after Spain’s goal keeper, David De Gea failed to hold on to the ball, no thanks to its pace from the shot by Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, the Spanish team had other ideas at the back of their minds coming in from the break and just before about ten minutes into the second half, specifically in the 54th minute the team restored parity following a close range tap – in by Diego Costa who completed his brace just before he was subsequently substituted in the tension – soaked and action-packed encounter.
Soon after, Spain led in the game for the very first time after Real Madrid player, Nacho powered in a thunderous strike from almost 30 yards out that got the whole stadium on their feet in massive jubilation, to leave the score at 2-3.
Fortunately for the Portugese fans, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t done just yet as the UEFA Champions League 2017/2018 Golden Boot winner with 15 goals culled in a perfectly taken free kick in the closing stages of the game, right after he was brought down at the edge of the eighteen yard box area by Spain Defender Gerrard Pique, to bring the scores leveled at 3-3 just before the full time whistle was blown.
Both teams will now hope to secure all three maximum points in their second group matches against Iran and Morocco respectively, after Iran had ran away with a surprising one nil 95th minute victory against Morocco in their first group game played earlier in the day, thus topping Group B momentarily.
Portugal face Morocco while Spain plays Iran.
However, GROUP C and D opening matches come up tomorrow June 16 with full fixtures displayed below:
This has been John Izabi, reporting for NEWS FLAKES Sports Desk.
**Images courtesy of Super Sports and Reuters.