After all the fuss about Spain and their managerial issues it was one of the greatest players in history who reminded the world what he was all about on the biggest stage of them all.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 51st career hat-trick – coincidentally, also the 51st in World Cup history – earned his Portugal side a point in a remarkable 3-3 draw, having led twice before trailing 3-2 late on.
However, the 33-year-old, who has become the first man in history to score in eight successive major tournaments, preferred to deflect attention to his team-mates.
“I’m very happy, it is a personal best [the hat-trick], one more in my career and the most important thing is to highlight what the team has done.”
The goals – a penalty, a 20-yarder which goalkeeper David De Gea was at fault for and then that memorable equaliser, his first from a free-kick in 45 attempts for his country – came just hours after he’d reportedly agreed to accept a fine of over £16million and a two-year suspended prison sentence from the Spanish authorities over tax evasion charges.
“We are not the favourites so we will try to do our best. The team is doing very well and we are going to do well for sure”, the Real Madrid man added. They next face Morocco, beaten by an injury-time own goal against Iran, on 20 June.