Cristiano Ronaldo has never had a better start to an international tournament. The Portuguese legend left everything out on the pitch in Russia Friday night, securing his team a 3-3 draw with his 51st career hat-trick.
However, Ronaldo was not the only one to set the stage alight on Friday. Here are three key performers from Portugal’s opening match draw against World Cup 2010 winners Spain.
He’s had a career filled with incredible performances, but Friday’s encounter against Spain was one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s best matches ever. The Portuguese forward gave absolutely everything he had in the tank to win his country the match, scoring all three goals in their 3-3 draw. Spain could not get a hold of him all night as the Real Madrid man caused chaos from the moment the first whistle blew. Ronaldo won his team an early penalty before converting that penalty beautifully. Then he gave his side the lead again just before half-time after Diego Costa had equalized; and when a Spain victory was looking all the more likely, Ronaldo scored one of his best ever free kick goals with a shot that could not have been placed any better. If this is a sign of what is to come from Cristiano Ronaldo in this tournament, Iran and Morocco should be very, very scared. One thing is for sure, it’ll take some doing to catch the Portuguese legend now. Ronaldo could well be on his way to winning the Golden Boot regardless of how far Santos’ side go.
Known for being a bit of a bully on the football pitch, Diego Costa was on fire against Portugal and like Spain’s defenders couldn’t get a hold of Ronaldo, Portugal’s had an even worse time getting hold of Diego Costa. The former Chelsea man showed incredible strength to hold of Pepe and then Jose Fonte on Spain’s first goal of the night, before hammering in an equalizer again early into the second half. The Spanish striker was unlucky to come off in the second half for Iago Aspas who did absolutely nothing after his arrival on the pitch. Had Hierro kept Costa on just a little bit longer, Spain might very well have secured a famous victory over Portugal. Without him, they lacked the same firepower and that is definitely going to be something for Hierro to keep an eye on in future matches.
Isco might not have taken control of Spain’s opening World Cup match in the way that he would have liked, but the Spanish midfielder was still essential in securing La Roja a point. The Real Madrid midfielder was fantastic in possession, hardly ever losing the ball and completing 95% of his passes (94 total passes completed). The midfield maestro also won 3 dribbles, had two shots on target and hit the woodwork from range with one of the best strikes he’ll ever have in his career. Dancing his way around Portugal’s defence, he was a presence in the match all game long and never went hidden like so many other midfielders did during the match. Isco was magnificent against Portugal in Spain’s opening match and even if he didn’t score or assist a goal, this was a great sign of what is to come from the 26-year old Real Madrid man in this tournament.
So there you have it. World Cup 2018 witnessed its highest scoring affair thus far with a highly entertaining 3-3 draw between two of the tournament’s big-hitters. With the promise that the likes of Ronaldo, Costa and Isco showed during Friday’s 3-3 affair, the 2018 World Cup in Russia is set for another fantastic month of action. Thanks for reading and see you soon.