Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo scored his sixth hat-trick for the national team and 51st career treble as Portugal held an all-out attacking Spain 3-3 in the Group B clash at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi Russia on Saturday. After the five-time Ballon D'Or holder gave Portugal the initial lead Diego Costa scored the equaliser which was again cut to level by a goal each from the both Costa and Ronaldo for their respective sides. In the second-half Nacho put Spain in the lead through a volley well curled into the far post from outside the box. However, a free-kick given away to Portugal withing touching distance costed Spain the victory as the Portuguese captain brought back his national team on level terms. (Scorecard)
Highlights of 2018 FIFA World Cup match between Portugal and Spain straight from Fisht Stadium Sochi, Russia
Cristiano Ronaldo with a beauty of a free kick to level that game at 3-3. David De Gea had no chance. pic.twitter.com/Qx1z57yDhn— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) June 15, 2018
01:21 IST: 90+4' - FINAL WHISTLE! Ronaldo scores a hat-trick as Portugal 3-3 Spain share spoils in the six-goal thriller in the Group B contest Sochi. An extra-ordinary performance from the 33-year-old after his side was consistently put on the back-foot by the Spanish attack.
01:18 IST: 90+1' - CORNER FOR PORTUGAL! Short one takem. Portugal pass the ball back to the goalkeeper as Patricio finds Moutinho on the left flank who nudges the Spanish defender inside the box, but his shot is blocked!
01:13 IST: 86' - GOAL! Ronaldo curls the free-kick into near post, David de Gea unmoved. Sixth international hat-trick for the Portuguese talisman. What a hit! Touch of a genius!
01:08 IST: 81' - Spain trying to keep the ball with themselves, making Portugal do the chasing game. No intent of real attack from Spain just happy to keep the ball at the moment.
01:04 IST: 76' - Brace scorer Diego Costa has been replaces by Iago Aspas.
01:02 IST: 74' - Ronaldo initiates attack from the left flank, passes it back to William. Queresma gets a sight of the goal, skies it over David de Gea.
00:58 IST: 71' - CORNER FOR PORTUGAL! Queresma takes a short one, chips an ariel ball into the box, headers fly but the Spanish defense clears it easily.
00:54 IST: Flurry of substitutions - Bruno Fernandes has been replaced by Mario. Bernardo Silva has been replaced by Ricardo Queresma. Spainish veteran Iniesta gets a standing ovation as he has been replaced by Thiago Alcantra.
00:51 IST: Spain on the dominance, Portugal playing in their own half. Isco, Silva, Nacho -- on the opposite flank combining well. Not looking good this for Ronaldo & co.
WHAT A GOAL NACHO! pic.twitter.com/wlgkQfLpWu— World Cup 2018 (@WCGoalz) June 15, 2018
00:46 IST' 58' - GOAL! Unmarked Nacho scores from outside the box as he steams down and curls the ball which was helped on by the far post to finish at the back of the net. Spain leads 3-2.
Yessss Diego Costa pic.twitter.com/n0K20iQ1YW— Andreas Christensen (@Christenseenn) June 15, 2018
00:40 IST 53' - FOUL ON INIESTA! Moutinho brings down the veteran, too far away from the goal. Silva again on the ball chips it inside the box, COSTA equalises from a close range header. 2 each for Ronaldo and Costa now as the teams stand level after the 55th minute.
00:38 IST: 50' - SPAIN playing the waited game. Isco, Nacho, Ramos combining on the right flank. Portugal maintaining their shape, holding a high back-line.
00:34 IST: 47' - OFFSIDE SPAIN! Isco was marked offside inside the Portugal box, trying to make a run past the defense, did not time it to perfection.
00:32 IST: Second-half gets underway! Ronaldo gets the ball rolling and the crowd is at its feet. This fixture is set for an unbelievable ending.
00:17 IST: 45+2' - HT: Ronaldo brace keeps Portugal ahead 2-1 with a slender lead. Diego Costa was the goal scorer for Spain. The Spaniards were the better side in the first half but the Portuguese talisman was the difference between both the sides. Spain will look to gather themselves and return back with an all-out attack in the final 45 minutes.
00:14 IST: 44' - GOAL! Ronaldo puts Portugal back in the lead, scored his second from outside the box. ERROR from the star goalkeeper David De Gea costed the goal, he was too clumsy to gather the ball and makes a blunder which costed Spain heavily.
00:12 IST: 42' - ISCO SHOOTS! The attacking midfielder tries a shot from outside the box the ball safely lands into the gloves of Patricio.
00:10 IST: 40' - Not good sight for Portugal! Spain containg the Portuguese, on to the back-foot as Pepe makes a rash challenge, not booked!
00:08 IST: 38' - CORNER FOR SPAIN! Silva takes it, Isco and Pique were forward in the box for Spain. Busquets gets a head but the ball drifts wide away from the near post.
00:04 IST: 34' - CHANCE FOR SPAIN! Unmarked inside the box, Iniesta shoots from close range but the ball drifts away from the post.
00:01 IST: 31' - The rhythm of the game has switched drastically. Spain looking better on the ball, keeping it, making waited pass, combing well to find the penetration. Portugal, meanwhile are trying to break on the counter but failing to make the most.
23:57 IST: 27' - FREE KICK for SPAIN! On the edge of the box, Bruno Fernandes goes into the box. Silva, Koke lining up to take the kick. Silva hits the wall as the Portuguese defense clears it away.
23:53 IST: 24' - GOAL! Diego Costa fires it past Rui Patricio in the near corner. It was a goal made all by his own after getting better off Pepe through a nudge on his face which was referred by the VAR and the decision was ruled in favour of the Spaniards.
23:52 IST: TRIVIA: Portugal have never lost a World Cup match whenever they have scored the opening goal, can they maintain the record here?
23:50 IST: 20' - Koke tries to enter the box, fails. Iniesta initiates an attack, tucked away! CORNER for Spain which they failed to make the most of.
23:47 IST: 17' - FIRST YELLOW CARD! Sergio Busquets gets into referee's book for an unnecessary challenge. Ronaldo takes the free-kick, blocked away by the Spanish wall.
23:45 IST: 16' -Spain containing the ball, trying to find a way to penetrate the high held Portuguese defense, slowly making strides forward. Silva crosses the ball to Nacho, cleared away. Now Portugal on the counter.
23:42 IST: CORNER FOR SPAIN! Poorly taken, no way through for Iniesta, Pepe clears it off.
23:39 IST: 9' - SKIED! David Silva was in space inside the box but he takes a heavy touch to sky the ball high and over out of the reach of Rui Patricio.
23:36 IST: 8' - Spain looking to contain Portugal now, combing well, Iniesta trying to find a way through to pass the ball to Costa.
23:34 IST: 4' - GOAL! RONALDO puts Portugal in the front sends David De Gea diving in the other side to take an early gifted lead.
23:32 IST: 3' - PENALTY for Portugal! Ronaldo brought down on the edge of the box by Nacho, unnecessary challenge.
23:31 IST: 1' - Portugal keeping the ball, making waited passes, straight on to attak bu cleared away by the Spainish defence. Portugal continues to keep the ball.
23:30 IST: KICK-OFF! Diego Costa for Spain initiates the proceedings kicking the ball right to left in the World Cup classic at Sochi.
23:28 IST: Ronaldo, Ramos exchange team sheets! Couple of minutes to kick-off!
23:25 IST: National Anthems! The Portuguese national anthem played first followed by the Spanish. Pride and respect at stake.
23:22 IST: The flag of both the team have been unveiled! Portugal led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Spain led by Sergio Ramos take on the turf amidst loud noise and support in the stadium.
23:15 IST: 15 minutes to kick-off! We have seen three fixtures in two days in the FIFA World Cup 2018 so far. None have used the VAR, given the intensity of the Portugal, Spain clash we can expect some drama in this high-profile clash.
Today is the beginning of a big dream!! 2018 World Cup good luck and let's go Portugal href="https://t.co/AATPzwM84z">pic.twitter.com/AATPzwM84z— Lus Figo (@LuisFigo) June 15, 2018
Rumbo al Fisht Stadium Lleg el momento. Llevamos mucho tiempo esperndolo. Ahora, unidos, a por todas. Con alma. Con fe. Con pasin. Con espritu.— Seleccin Espaola de Ftbol (@SeFutbol) June 15, 2018
Grtalo fuerte... VAMOS, ESPAA!#HagamosQueOcurra #Rusia2018 pic.twitter.com/fasD2yupaH
22:00 IST: Hello and welcome to the live commentary from the marquee fixture of Group B between European Champions Portugal and 2010 World Champions Spain.
William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes and Bas Dost joined Rui Patricio and Daniel Podence in filing notices with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission.
Meanwhile, in a bombshell development which followed the naming of Lopetegui as Real's new coach on Tuesday, the Spanish federation confirmed that the 2010 World Cup winners had sacked their coach and replaced him with Fernando Hierro.
"We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves," said Hierro, who was already working for the Spanish federation as sporting director. "The objective is to fight for a World Cup. The players have been working towards this for two years.
"I've told the players that we have a wonderful, exciting challenge and we can't let this be an excuse to distract us from our dream."
Cristiano Ronaldo will launch his latest and probably last attempt to crown his career with a World Cup winner's medal when European champions Portugal face neighbours Spain.
It is worth wondering what Ronaldo might have known of Lopetegui's imminent appointment at Real, given the relationship both have with Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes, at a time when the forward's own club future remains the source of speculation.
But now, amid all that, Ronaldo's focus is on the World Cup, the one major honour still missing from his CV.
It is a stretch to make Portugal one of the favourites to win the trophy, even with Ronaldo, but they are nevertheless in Russia as the reigning European champions after surprising France on home soil two years ago.
Ronaldo is 33 now, still in fantastic physical condition and the reigning Ballon d'Or winner. He can probably play on for as long as he wants, but it is hard to imagine him returning for a fifth World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
If he is to cap his career with a World Cup winner's medal, then now is his time, and what better way to start than by inspiring Portugal to victory over their neighbours and put themselves in pole position in Group B.
"Of course Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world at the moment and he will be the top player at this World Cup. There are no words to describe him," said admiring team-mate Joao Mario at Portugal's base near Moscow this week.