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Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick earns Portugal thrilling draw against Spain

Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his first-half penalty against Spain on Friday, June 15. He added two more goals in the 3-3 draw.
One of the most eagerly anticipated games of the opening days of the 2018 World Cup did not disappoint as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hattrick, made history and earned Portugal a draw in an enthralling contest against a Spain side eager to put a tumultuous week behind them.
The Real Madrid star, aiming to lead his country to glory in what is likely to be his final World Cup, scored from a fourth-minute penalty which he himself earned and put Portugal ahead once again after Spain goalkeeper David de Gea carelessly allowed his long-range effort to slip through his fingers.
But with Spain leading 3-2 thanks to a Diego Costa brace and a superb 30-yard effort from Nacho, Ronaldo stepped up with just minutes remaining to magically curl a freekick into the top corner and pull his country back from the brink of defeat.
It was an astonishing ending and a performance which lit up the tournament.
It should come as no surprise that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, scorer of 43 goals for Real Madrid this season and widely regarded as one of the greatest to have played the game, etched his name into the history books in the process -- becoming the first man to score in eight consecutive major tournaments and only the fourth to score in four separate World Cups.
It was the 51st hattrick in World Cup history -- and the 51st of the forward's glorious career. Aged 33 years and 130 days, the Portuguese is now also the oldest player to score a World Cup hattrick.
In the 88th minute, Ronaldo steps up after Gerard Pique concedes a foul on the edge of the box.
Ronaldo had previously not scored for Portugal from any attempted freekick.
De Gea is helpless as Ronaldo's freekick hits the net.
In describing his display as his best in a World Cup, Ronaldo told reporters: "I'm happy with the team too because we played well. I think the result was fair in the end."
Portugal coach Fernando Santos said that it was Ronaldo who "carried our team."
"Cristiano has great physical strength but his mental strength is very impressive as well," added Santos.
"He has played at the highest level for a long time now and knows how to handle those moments."
The result puts Group B -- currently topped by Iran who beat Morocco 1-0 earlier Friday -- in the balance, though both reigning European champions Portugal and 2010 World Cup winners Spain will be expected to progress to the knockout stages.

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