Cristiano Ronaldo rules the roost and other talking points from Spain's 3-3 draw with Portugal

Andy West 16/06/2018
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Ronaldo was the star for Portugal.

The World Cup kicked off in earnest with a Friday night thriller as Spain and Portugal shared the spoils in a six-goal classic, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s magnificent late leveller securing a fortunate point despite seeing his side outplayed for long periods.

Spain really sparkled at times and looked good value for a victory which appeared to be coming their way thanks to two goals from Diego Costa, but Ronaldo’s heroics – and a howler from David De Gea – ensured honours ended even in a fascinating contest.

Here are three key storylines from a game which produced many.

RONALDO RULES THE ROOST

Somehow, after a week which saw his opponents sack their manager the day before the World Cup and his club side appoint him, Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to do what he always does: steal the headlines.

The Portugal captain and talisman capped an action-packed performance by conjuring a magical late free-kick for his hat-trick goal, securing a point in the most dramatic fashion. He had already opened the scoring with a penalty he won himself, then netted a second which owed a lot to dreadful goalkeeping, and was constantly at the centre-piece of Portugal’s frequently threatening counter-attacks.

In truth, Portugal were fortunate to escape with a point after being completely dominated for long periods, and Spain will be hugely frustrated they weren’t able to escape their shocking week with a deserved and confidence boosting victory.

But with Cristiano Ronaldo on the field, anything is possible. And if he keeps up this kind of form maybe Portugal really can complete a remarkable Euros and World Cup double.

Ronaldo added to the legend with his hat-trick on Friday.

Ronaldo added to the legend with his hat-trick on Friday.

DE GEA ON BORROWED TIME?

David De Gea’s shocking mistake for Ronaldo’s second goal was the second similar error committed by the Manchester United man in the space of less than a fortnight – he also spilled an easy shot during the warm-up friendly against Switzerland, giving Ricardo Rodriguez an easy goal.

Once was forgivable, but twice? Committing two similar errors in such a short space of time is extremely concerning, and emergency boss Fernando Hierro must now be seriously considering taking a step which would have seemed unthinkable just a couple of weeks ago: dropping De Gea.

The problem for the 27 year-old is surely one of concentration, deriving from the fact that playing in goal for Spain is a very different proposition than doing so for Manchester United. With the former, his team habitually enjoys long passages of possession in the opposition half, meaning the ball is 50 or 60 yards away from the goalkeeper, who can consequently go ‘cold’ and lose his feeling for the game.

That certainly appeared to be the case on this occasion, with De Gea not having any meaningful work to do for at least a quarter of an hour before he was caught out by Ronaldo’s daisy cutter. Dropping him now might seem drastic, but leaving him in would be a risk.

Is De Gea's claim on Spain's No 1 shirt under threat?

Is De Gea’s claim on Spain’s No 1 shirt under threat?

COSTA ANSWERS THE CRITICS

Diego Costa’s place in Spain’s starting line-up was the biggest topic of debate for Spain before the game, with the Atletico Madrid man doing little in the majority of his previous international outings to suggest that he should be selected ahead of Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno.

But the former Chelsea man hit back in inimitable style with a brilliant goal for Spain’s first-half equaliser, which started with a quintessential Costa moment as he barged Pepe off the ball – fortunate not to be whistled for a free-kick – and then delivered a finish of genuine quality as he twisted and turned into space to crunch home a fierce low strike.

Costa later levelled again with a poacher’s strike early in the second half, getting in the right position to bundle over the line from close range, and he led the line with poise and power all night. If this game proved one thing for Spain it that their striker debate is over.

Costa showed he can deliver for Spain on the big stage.

Costa showed he can deliver for Spain on the big stage.

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Diego Costa's brace earns a 9 in our player ratings as Spain held in thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal

Andy West 16/06/2018
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Costa's brace was very nearly a winning one.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning hat-trick as Portugal snatched a 3-3 draw with Spain in a World Cup classic here Friday.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo crashed in an 88th minute free-kick to snatch a point for Portugal after a second-half goal from Nacho put the Spaniards 3-2 ahead.

Ronaldo’s late equaliser capped a storming encounter which came after a chaotic few days which saw Spain coach Julen Lopetegui sacked and Fernando Hierro appointed as his replacement.

Earlier, Ronaldo had twice put the European champions in front only for Diego Costa to bring Spain level on each occasion on a steamy night on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

But then Ronaldo stepped up to send his free-kick from 25 yards up over the wall and into the net, as the Iberian neighbours settled for a point apiece in this Group B encounter.

STARTING XI

David De Gea 4 – Made a horrible error for Ronaldo’s second goal – his second such mistake in a fortnight. Also dithered under a long ball late on.

Nacho 6 – Conceded the early penalty and looked jittery early on but made amends with a stunning strike for the winner.

Gerard Pique 7 – Almost faultless until the last moments, when he conceded a foolish foul to give Cristiano Ronaldo his chance to level.

Sergio Ramos 7 – An excellent game at the back from the Spain skipper, who showed focus and concentration to steady his team’s defence.

Jordi Alba 7 – Full of running down the left, showing plenty of attacking endeavour and defensive commitment, including a goal-saving tackle.

Koke 7 – Spain’s less flamboyant player on the ball but he led his team’s pressing to allow them to dominate the midfield.

Sergio Busquets 6 – Sometimes uncomfortable against Portugal’s counters but made a good headed assist for Costa’s second goal and passed well.

Andres Iniesta 6 – Dragged a low shot wide and showed some moments of class but faded rapidly and was replaced with 20 minutes remaining.

David Silva 7 – Fired a volley over the top and had a shot deflected wide in the first half. Full of subtle touches and clever movement.

Isco 8 – Hit the post with a brilliant first-half volley which summed up a sumptuous display, showcasing his creative abilities.

Diego Costa 9 – Scored a brilliant goal in the first half, a poacher’s strike in the second and led the line superbly throughout. Textbook display.

SUBSTITUTES

Thiago 7 – Replaced Iniesta and helped Spain grab control of the contest with excellent controlled passing.

Iago Aspas 6 – Came on for the last 15 minutes and had half a chance which he wasted with a soft shot.

Lucas Vazquez 5 – Entered for the final stages with little impact.

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Cristiano Ronaldo earns a 9 in our player ratings after his stunning hat-trick in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain

Andy West 16/06/2018
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Cristiano Ronaldo starred, scoring a hat-trick for Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning hat-trick as Portugal snatched a 3-3 draw with Spain in a World Cup classic here Friday.

Real Madrid star Ronaldo crashed in an 88th minute free-kick to snatch a point for Portugal after a second-half goal from Nacho put the Spaniards 3-2 ahead.

Ronaldo’s late equaliser capped a storming encounter which came after a chaotic few days which saw Spain coach Julen Lopetegui sacked and Fernando Hierro appointed as his replacement.

Earlier, Ronaldo had twice put the European champions in front only for Diego Costa to bring Spain level on each occasion on a steamy night on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

But then Ronaldo stepped up to send his free-kick from 25 yards up over the wall and into the net, as the Iberian neighbours settled for a point apiece in this Group B encounter.

Here’s how Portugal’s players rated on the night.

STARTING XI

Rui Patricio 6 – Didn’t have any chance with any of Spain’s three goals, and did what he had to.

Cedric Soares 5 – Struggled against Spain’s incisive attacking play down the left as Isco, Iniesta and Alba weaved patterns.

Pepe 5 – Was shoved off the ball by Costa – perhaps illegally – for Spain’s first goal and is starting to look his age.

Jose Fonte 6 – Also struggled to contain the power of Costa, but made a couple of important clearances under pressure.

Raphael Guerreiro 7 – Had more touches of the ball than any other Portugal player and got forward regularly in a progressive performance.

Bernardo Silva 4 – Disappointing night for the Manchester City man, who made very little contribution in attack and struggled defensively.

Joao Moutinho 5 – Found himself overrun and chasing shadows for much of the night, unable to establish a passing rhythm.

William Carvalho 6 – Worked hard to close down Spain’s possession in the centre of the pitch, covering plenty of ground.

Bruno Fernandes 4 – Hesitated to lose a shooting chance, booked and made little other impact before being replaced midway through the second half.

Goncalo Guedes 5 – Played up front alongside Ronaldo but made nowhere near as much an impression, with just one shot blocked.

Cristiano Ronaldo 9 – Won and scored the early penalty, netted a fortunate second and blasted a brilliant free-kick to steal a draw.

SUBSTITUTES

Joao Mario 5 – Played down the left for the final quarter but couldn’t get too involved.

Ricardo Quaresma 6 – Introduced on the right wing for the latter stages and put some dangerous deliveries in the middle.

Andre Silva 5 – Came on up front for the last few minutes but barely had a touch.

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