Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 51st hat trick in World Cup history on Friday, bagging all three goals for Portugal in their 3-3 draw against Spain.

Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick vs. Spain at the 2018 World Cup, his first of three goals in the match. (Image: PA)

At 33, Ronaldo became the oldest player ever to score a hat trick in a World Cup match.

Ronaldo Runs Rampant

The scoring started early, with Ronaldo connecting on a penalty kick in the fourth minute after earning a foul on the edge of the box from his Real Madrid teammate Nacho. After Diego Costa tied the score at one in the 24th minute, Ronaldo gave Portugal their second lead of the game when Spanish goaltender David de Gea failed to handle a low shot in the 44th minute, spilling the ball into the net.

That put Portugal up 2-1 at the half. The game looked to become a duel between Ronaldo and Diego Costa, who tied the game again off a set piece in the 55th minute. Spain would then take the lead on a volley for Nacho just three minutes later, giving Spain their first lead of the day.

The 3-2 score looked like it would hold up as Spain characteristically dominated possession during the final minutes. But Gerard Pique opened the door with a careless foul against Ronaldo just outside the box in the dying moments of the second half. The Portuguese superstar took a few deep breaths, then bent a free kick around the wall and into the top corner to tie the game, earning his side a critical point.

While Spain and Portugal may have put on a show that is an early contender for match of the tournament, its Iran that has managed to grab the early lead in Group B. The Iranians earned only their second ever win in World Cup history by defeating Morocco 1-0 on Friday.

Moroccan defender Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net when trying to clear an Iranian free kick deep into added time, scoring an own goal and giving Iran the only tally of the game.

Iran still has to face Spain and Portugal, both of whom remain overwhelming favorites to qualify out of the group. But Irans chances have certainly improved, with William Hill giving them 2/1 odds of advancing to the knockout stages.

Russia Takes Early Lead in Group A

In Group A action, hosts Russia started the tournament on Thursday with an emphatic 5-0 victory over a Saudi Arabia side who never seemed to pose much a threat. The margin of victory may be important, as goal differential could prove to be a critical tiebreaker in a group where the Saudis are expected to struggle against all of their opponents.

Russia sits atop the group following Uruguays 1-0 victory over Egypt on Friday. Egypt played an excellent match even without star striker Mohamed Salah, who was available as a substitute but remained on the bench with a shoulder injury.

But with the African side on the verge of grabbing a point against the team expected by most to win Group A, Jose Gimenez scored on an 89th minute header to grab the victory for Uruguay.

The results have made Uruguay (1/40) and Russia (1/8) strong favorites to advance, though Egypt (7/2) still has a realistic path to go through if they can win their head-to-head match against the Russians, which will come on Tuesday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *