Classy Ronaldo spoils Spanish party in 3-3 World Cup cliffhanger

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo broke his goal duck against Spain, scoring a hat-trick in an extraordinary World Cup Group B game which ended 3-3.Spain appeared to have shrugged off a tumultuous backroom crisis and were cruising to a 3-2 victory until Ronaldo curled a lovely free-kick very late to spoil the Spanish party.Bullish Diego Costa twice cancelled a Christiano Ronaldo brace before Nacho powered the Spanish in the lead with a volley of breathtaking genius. But Ronaldo came in with his majestic strike.There was a tangible sense of anticipation the night on which the two neighbours were paired in Group B and on the day when they met at Succhi Russia, that anticipation turned into sumptuous drama, a great football spectacle and a World Cup classic for many nights.Spain had sacked their coach Julen Lepetegui two days into the World Cup. They did not end there. They slapped a €18.8 million tax fine against Cristiano Ronaldo just hours into the game and took the stakes even higher but the big Real Madrid man knows how to turn adversity into great fortune.The man who until today’s game had never scored against Spain, netted a hat-trick in spectacular fashion and left Nacho, his teammate at club level scratching his head and De Gea gnashing his teeth. In what was more an El-Classico than a World Cup game, the big Real Madrid man, playing against four of his teammates, handed Spain a nightmarish start with a powerful penalty four minutes into the game.He had been caught late by the trailing leg of Nacho after his trademark stepover and down he went with referee Rocchi pointing to the spot.Ronaldo sent De Gea one way and put the ball the other way before heading towards the corner line for a Portuguese jubilation.David Silva had the opportunity five minutes later to draw level but he skied his shot in the vital area with his weaker right foot. The Spaniards were beginning to dictate the pace with a fondness of possession but it was the Portuguese side that broke away on a counter in the 20th minute. Ronaldo selflessly laid the pass for his partner who had De Gea at his mercy but he fluffed his line. Three minutes later the Spaniards struck and it was Diego Costa who knocked down Pepe with an elbow, dummied two Portuguese defenders before striking low and hard to beat Rui Patricio in post for the Portuguese.The Spaniards were in control, with the sleekly individual display and an even admirable teamwork. But Portugal were composed in defence looking for a break.At this point it was difficult to blink an eye because to do that was to take a risk of missing an action or a great skill.In one of those special Isco moments, the Real Madrid man fired a powerful left volley that begged for a goal-line technology after hitting the bar and bouncing off the goal line. Rocchi was right in waving play-on and the technology proved later it was a right decision to take. Then in the 34th minute, Iniesta had his strike whisk just wide after a sublime build-up by the Spanish side.The Spanish side looked more menacing in front of goal but it was Ronaldo who got the Portuguese noses in front again in the 44th minute. He needed help from De Gea. The goal machine who scores with every part of his body fired a low shot on his left foot but the Manchester United allowed the ball to slip through his fingers just before recess.Back from the dug-out, it was the Spanish side who needed a goal badly and that man from the other side of Madrid gave it to them. Costa tapped in from close range after a Busquet header but it was Iniesta’s freekick that caused the damage.2-2 it was with two men scoring a brace each and looking for the icing on the cake. Costa was taken off by Hierro a decision the Spanish coach will rue later on perhaps. But even before that, Spain went ahead in the 56th minute with a goal from an unlikely source, a goal with class and finesse.Nacho who was picked ahead of his superior teammate at Real, Carvajal, wrapped his foot around the ball and blasted a half-volley just at the edge of the 18-yard box for his first goal on international duty.An overstretched Patricio could still not keep the volley away because the goal post kept it in and gave the Spaniards another bragging right.It looked settled. The Spaniards were in control. Ronaldo was getting increasingly frustrated and was either swearing at the referee or throwing the balls at his opponents. But when Pique fouled him just on the edge of the 18-yard box in the 88th minute, all Ronaldo needed was to breathe in and out, watch the position of the human wall curled a lovely little one beyond the wall and turned De Gea into a tour guide watching the ball enter his own net.3-3 it ended a fair result on a night of great football spectacle.last_img

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