In what was hyped as the biggest matchup in the 2018 World Cup group stage, the clash between Spain and Portugal did not disappoint. For Real Madrid supporters, the match was even sweeter because many of the crucial moments involved Real players.
Just 4 minutes in Nacho took down Cristiano in the box, which gave Portugal their first opportunity to go ahead early on a penalty kick. And, of course, Ronaldo converted on it beautifully.
Cristiano Ronaldo gets the opener!— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 15, 2018
He draws the penalty and buries it to give Portugal an early 1-0 lead against Spain. #PORESP pic.twitter.com/MdngUlAMnL
Portugal came close to making the score 2-0 on a chance by Valencia’s Goncalo Guedes, but attempted a failed pass instead which allowed Jordi Alba to recover. The goal and Portugal’s missed chance didn’t make Spain back off, though, as they would put the pressure on Portugal, which eventually led to a 1-1 tie in the 24th minute of action. Atletico’s Diego Costa would score his first goal of the night after a wonderful solo effort and finish. Perhaps Chelsea shouldn’t have sold Costa in favor of Alvaro Morata.
Diego Costa does it himself to pull Spain level! pic.twitter.com/x4Ey0wIMva— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 15, 2018
With Spain tied 1-1 now, their confidence was boosted to put the pressure on the Portugal defense. Just minutes after Costa pulled Spain level, Isco belted a shot that went bar down and on the line. Unfortunately, it would not count because Spain was ruled offside. It seemed the two sides would come out of the half level at 1-1, until Cristiano Ronaldo happened again in the 45th. A goal very similar to Gareth Bale’s second Champions League Final goal involved David De Gea doing his best Loris Karius impression. De Gea went down to grab it and ended up deflecting Cristiano’s shot into the net instead.
️ RONALDOOOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/liDdEWo6LT— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 15, 2018
Diego Costa would score again in the 55th minute of action after a great free kick from David Silva and pass from Sergio Busquets that found Costa’s foot and the net.
Another one for Diego Costa!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 15, 2018
Spain's training-ground free kick ends up in the back of the net thanks to Busquets and Costa. pic.twitter.com/lpEVcJALe5
Spain making the match leveled again at 2-2 started to make Portugal a bit panicked it seemed. Just minutes apart, Spain again would find their way past Rui Patricio on an absolute screamer from Nacho. The score now 3-2, surely one of Nacho’s finest career goals and one where you’re glad that he can come in and fill in for Carvajal when needed.
UNBELIEVABLE STRIKE FROM NACHO!— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 15, 2018
The defender makes up for his early mistake with a beauty to put Spain ahead 3-2. pic.twitter.com/6AofrdhwqX
It seemed that Spain now held full control over the match as they dominated possession and stunned Portugal with two quick goals to take the lead. But, as anyone should know by now, you can’t leave time on the clock and allow Ronaldo a big chance to shine. In the 88th minute and almost in poetic fashion, Ronaldo stunned the crowd in Sochi once again with a gorgeous free kick curler that found it’s way around the Spanish wall and behind De Gea. The last goal of the match and the one that ended a highly entertaining match 3-3.
Take a bow, Cristiano Ronaldo. pic.twitter.com/pXEWrsB5gV— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 15, 2018
This goal, which completed Ronaldo’s hat trick, would be the one to make Cristiano Ronaldo the only player to score a World Cup hat trick against Spain. It would also make him the oldest player to score a World Cup hat trick, which is now set at 33 years of age.
While he didn’t appear on the scoresheet, Sergio Ramos was brilliant tonight for Spain, as he so often is in big games. If there’s one thing that will help Spain go far in this tournament, it’s Ramos’ presence in matches when it matters most to help propel the team to success.
Though it’s early, this match has certainly been the most entertaining match of the group stage so far, as many predicted it would be. It was an unforgettable night and one Ronaldo needed after his news from the Spanish government earlier today. Spain and Portugal will both be back in action next Wednesday when Spain takes on Iran and Portugal faces Morocco.