Spain and Portugal drew 3-3 in their Group B opener in Sochi on Friday, a thriller that saw Ronaldo put Portugal ahead twice with Diego Costa drawing level for Spain both times. Nacho, who gave away penalty for opener, then gave Spain the lead with a stunner of a volley. An absolute stunner from Ronaldo, his 51st career hat-trick and the 51st hat-trick to be scored at the World Cup- tied things up again at 3-3 in the 88th minute.
On the same day he has been sentenced to a two-year prison sentence for tax avoidance, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo answered critics by smashing home a 4th-minute penalty versus Spain at Russia 2018.
Ronaldo himself won the spot kick after going down after contact from Spain defender Nacho wide on the of the Spain penalty area after selling his Real Madrid teammate a speculative stepover.
Nacho’s leg seemed to catch Ronaldo’s trailing foot as the winger attempted a burst of pace. Referee Gianluca Rocchi pointed straight at the spot, without consulting the Video Referee System (VAR).
Cristiano converted Portugal’s seventh World Cup penalty. Portugal never missed a penaty in open play at the global finals.
Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the fourth player to score in four World Cups, after Uwe Seeler, Pele and Miroslav Klose.
Cristiano’s fourth-minute penalty is the third-earliest in World Cup history – coming later only than Johan Neeskens (1974 Final, after two minutes) and Robin van Persie (against Brazil, match for third place in 2014, after three minutes).
Atletico Madrid star, Diego Costa scored for Spain in the 24th minute with his first shot on target at a World Cup. He played twice at Brazil 2014 – he started and was substituted off against the Netherlands and Chile. He breaks his World Cup duck after 150 minutes of action.
Earlier, Spanish tax authorities claimed that between 2011 and 2014, Ronaldo failed to pay some $17 million in taxes, and hid his true income with a purpose-built business tax shelter.
Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly reached a plea deal with the Spanish tax authorities for a two years suspended prison sentence and to pay a 18.8 million euro fine. However, it’s doubtful that he will actually serve time, as he has no previous criminal record.
Cristiano Ronaldo initially denied the tax evasion charge when he appeared in court in 2017.
Coming into this World Cup, Spain had been seen as one of the outstanding favourites to lift the trophy in Russia after a two-year unbeaten run under Julen Lopetegui.
But Wednesday’s sensational decision by the Spanish Football Federation to sack Lopetegui, in response to the announcement he would take over at Real Madrid after the tournament, has threatened to derail their chances.
Suddenly Hierro — a great former Real and Spain defender but a man with little coaching experience — finds himself in charge of a side eager to show they can still go all the way on Russian soil.
Hierro, whose previous experience as a coach amounts to a season in the Spanish second tier with Oviedo, admitted he will not be making sweeping changes.
“We are absolutely fine coming into this game. We know quite clearly what we want. We respect the champions but we have full confidence in the boys and what they have done in these last two years,” said Hierro.
Two games in Group B so far with late drama. IR Iran lead the way after their stoppage time winner, while Cristiano’s late heroics mean Portugal and Spain share the spoils and sit second and third respectively.
Portugal head to Moscow for their game against deflated Morocco at the Luzhniki stadium on Wednesday, with IR Iran facing Spain in Kazan later the same day.
Russia’s first-ever World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15.