The FIFA World Cup is well and truly on!!!!
Cristiano Ronaldo served up a performance for the ages as he scored a hat trick to help Portugal force neighbours Spain to a thrilling, enthralling 3-3 draw.
The Sochi stadium and indeed the football fraternity watched with bated breath as Portgual and Spain served up the IBERIAN EL-CLASSICO.
Straight from the kick-off it was fire works.
Spain have had a torrid week following the managerial changes on the eve of the mundial, and the Portuguese Selecao quickly took advantage with Ronaldo winning from a fumbling Nacho and scoring a penalty in the fourth minute.
That early shocker woke up the Spanish, who launched a furious response and they got their reward with Diego Costa brushing aside Portuguese defender Pepe to smash in a shot in the twenty fourth minute.
Spain had the Portuguese by the scruff of the neck, but Ronaldo struck again on the forty-fourth minute as keeper David De Gea dropped the Portuguese striker’s shot to hand Selecao a 2-1 lead going into half-time.
If you thought Spain would roll over and die, then you were completely wrong.
La Furia Roja did not have to wait too long as Diego Costa again brought the 2010 World champions back into the game with a neat finish in the fifty-fifth minute.
Then defender Nacho stepped up to redeem himself from his first-half fumbles to hit a ‘worldie-shot’ from 30 meters out to give the Spanish matadors a 3-2 lead.
At this point Spanish coach Fernando Hiero’s men settled nicely to a more relaxed version of tiki-taka, dominating possession to the point of utter impunity – 78% to Portugal’s 22%.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos threw in Strikers Andres Silva and ageless Quaresma to help out a tiring Ronaldo.
That seemed to do the trick as the Portuguese crusaders won a free kick a free kick two minutes to regulation time.
Up stepped the 2017 world player of the year Ronaldo, who curled a delightful ball over the Spanish wall to leave De Gea rooted to the spot!
A befitting finish to a befitting contest in the exotic city of Sochi.
That was ridiculous.
— FIFA World Cup ? (@FIFAWorldCup) June 15, 2018
This clash will be talked about as one of the greatest classics of the FIFA World Cup, right up there with other classics: Hungary Vs Brazil (1954), Italy Vs West Germany (1970), Brazil Vs Italy (1982), Spain Vs Nigeria (1998), and Uruguay Vs Senegal (2002).
The draw leaves Spain and Portugal level on one point each, with Iran leading on three points after their shock 1-0 defeat of Morocco.
The Atlas Lions must put on their fighting gear if they are to beat Spain, who were simply denied by one man – Cristiano Ronaldo.