The 2018 World Cup in Russia has been off to a great start as it finished day 2 of play. We saw the host country of Russia put up 5 goals against Saudi Arabia, all but eliminating them in the first match. Uruguay was able to steal 3 points with a 90′ minute header from José Maria Giménez and Iran score a surprising victory over Morocco in stoppage time. This is how you want a tournament to feel, every pass, every goal as if it was the game winner for your country. But this tournament is for the immortals, a stage set where the legends separate themselves from the greats and Ronaldo is marking this as his stage.
Did Ronaldo claim to be the 🐐 with this goal celebration?
He went on to score two more goals just to back it up… pic.twitter.com/Issw4fotol
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 15, 2018
Friday’s matchup of Portugal vs Spain was the premier matchup of the weekend, two great powerhouse countries in an opening match to set the tone for the tournament and it did not disappoint. Ronaldo was absolutely brilliant in this match as we saw in the 4′ minute where he knocked in the first goal of the game. However, Spain didn’t go away; Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa responded in the 24′ minute with an equalizer and then it went back and forth for the whole match. There was a moment in the match where it felt like Spain was just too fast and controlled for Portugal to come back. But these are the moments that soccer fans live to see the greatest players will their squad to victory.
With the Spain up in the 88th minute, after a beautiful strike from Spain’s Nacho, it felt like Portugal just didn’t have enough but Ronaldo made aggressive move just outside the box that drew a free kick. This moment reminded me of a young Ronaldo when he played for Manchester United against Chelsea in the UEFA Cup (2008) and missed his shootout attempt and even though Manchester won, we all know Ronaldo wanted to sure up big in that moment. In the World Cup, however, Ronaldo put in a bending goal that the Portuguese and soccer fans alike will be talking about all weekend and likely forever.
Ronaldo, with his hat trick, tied most goals by a European in international play and even though Portugal and Spain drew, Ronaldo won the night. He single handily kept his home country from a heart breaking loss and perhaps provided a spark that will carry Portugal to the Cup final. With all the greatest players in the world playing in one tournament, it’s hard to separate from the pack but the 5 time Ballon d’Or award winner proved he is the best in the world, no question.