Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick denied Spain the perfect response to a turbulent week following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui in a thrilling 3-3 draw in Sochi.
Spain’s troublesome week looked set for a much-needed win until Ronaldo curled home a sensational free-kick to cap a hat-trick and salvage Portugal a point two minutes from time.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ronaldo had scored just three goals in his previous three World Cups, but already looks a strong favourite to win the Golden Boot as he won then.
He dispatched a fourth minute penalty and took advantage of an uncharacteristic error from David de Gea to twice put Portugal in front before the break. He was voted man of the match.
Diego Costa had silenced suggestions he is incompatible with Spain’s short-passing game with a double of his own before Nacho’s wonder strike looked to have sealed the perfect debut for Fernando Hierro just two days after he was handed the job as Spain coach.
But the five-time World Player of the Year wasn’t to be denied when he lined up a free-kick 20 yards from goal before bending it over the Spanish wall and dipping perfectly into the top corner.
Ronaldo is the 3rd player to score a hat-trick for Portugal at the World Cup after Eusébio (4 goals v Korea DPR in 1966) and Pauleta (3 v Poland in 2002).
Portugal head to Moscow for their game against deflated Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, with table leader, Iran facing Spain in Kazan later the same day.