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World Cup: Portugal 3-3 Spain

15th June 2018

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A hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo denied recently appointed Spain manager Fernando Hierro a debut victory in a thrilling match between the two rivals, befitting of The World Cup.

Spain got off to an auspicious start and the former world champions were 1-0 down within the first five minutes.

Ronaldo was at hand to cause Spain problems early on. Portugal's captain danced his way into the penalty area only for fellow Real Madrid teammate Nacho to bring him down for the penalty. Ronaldo stepped up and sent David De Gea the wrong way, to become one of only four men to score at four different World Cup finals.

Spain were caught unaware by Portugal's quick start to the game but ten minutes later the 2010 World champions started to settle down to their normal style of play and beggining to dictate the game. Their first real chance came through Manchester City midfielder David Silva, whose half-volley was blazed over the bar after some great build-up play involving Isco and Diego Costa

Diego Costa restored Fernando Hierro's faith in the 24th minute as he leveled things for La Roja. Sergio Busquets picked up the ball from deep within his own half and hit am uncharacteristic long ball towards Diego Costa and Costa shoved off Pepe with ease and sidestepped the defenders to drill the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

Spain almost took the lead two minutes later, continuing their pressure, the ball fell to Isco on the edge of the box and the Madrid man hits an unbelievable half-volley which bounced off the underside of the bar but goal-line technology ruled that the ball had not crossed the line.

The current European Champions went into the half-time break with the lead thanks to Ronaldo once again. This time, however, Ronaldo had a helping hand so to speak from De Gea, who spilled Ronaldo's shot into the corner of the net bringing shades of Robert Green against USA to mind.

Spain continued their pressure though into the second half, dominating possession and forcing Portugal further into their own half. They equalised through a well-worked set piece, in which David Silva floated a ball to the back post to Nacho who headed it back across for Diego Costa and the Atletico frontman smashed the ball home from four yards out.

Fernando Hierro's side then took the lead for the first time in the game through Nacho. The Real Madrid defender, who was already having quite the eventful game went from zero to hero in the 58th minute. As the ball reached the edge of the box, the right back hit a wonderful half-volley which cannoned back off the inside of the post and rippled into the back of the net.

With time almost up, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique brought down Ronaldo 25 yards out from De Gea's goal giving Portugal the opportunity from a free kick dead centre with Ronaldo standing over it. The current Balon D'or holder showed his class and struck a beautiful freekick which had shades of his strike against Portsmouth in 2008, into the top right-hand corner.

Ricardo Quaresma had a chance to win the game in the 91st minute but he saw his effort blocked as both teams shared the points in what was undoubtedly the best game of the World Cup so far.

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