Ronaldo to the rescue in World Cup opener

Cristiano Ronaldo produced a memorable hat-trick to earn Portugal a 3-3 draw at Fisht Stadium. Portugal’s talisman twice put the Seleção ahead, but saved the best for last with a first-class free kick in the dying minutes.

The match swung back and forth with three lead changes and included yet another Ronaldo hat-trick and possible goal of the tournament from Nacho. After two 1-0 results on Day Two of the World Cup the match provided the scintillating spectacle many ware anticipating.

Ronaldo drew a foul from Nacho inside the area in the third minute, earning a penalty that he dispatched past David de Gea with confidence. Portugal broke free twice soon after but Gonçalo Guedes couldn’t capitalise.

Spain soon hit back, a long ball to Diego Costa saw him hold off Pepe and dance with José Fonte before firing into the bottom corner. Isco unleashed a long shot that smacked the underside of the bar and bounced off the line as La Roja fought back.

Andrés Iniesta saw his shot deflected wide as Spain were dictating play and maintaining momentum. Isco had a shot saved but Portugal reclaimed the lead against the run of play moments before half-time. Guedes controlled a long ball and laid it off to Ronaldo, his low shot squeezing through De Gea who should have done better.

Action-packed

The fast paced action resumed straight after the break, Bruno Fernandes with a chance but Spain took control with two quick goals. A free kick to the back post saw Sergio Busquets head the ball across to Diego Costa who tapped in for his second goal. Spain’s third was a real peach, a clearance falling to Nacho who hit a thunderbolt that swerved in off the post. Unstoppable.

Spain’s midfield maestros Iniesta and David Silva were enjoying plenty of open space as the substitutes began. João Mário came on for Bruno Fernandes and Ricardo Quaresma replaced Bernardo Silva as Portugal had to chase the game.

New La Roja manager Fernando Hierro made three changes to try and hold onto victory, introducing Thiago Alcántara, Iago Aspas and Lucas Vázquez as André Silva replaced Gonçalo Guedes with 10 minutes remaining.

With time running out, Ronaldo sucked Pique into giving away a cheap foul in prime free kick territory. Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer stepped up and curled it around the wall into the top corner, the saviour once again with goal number 84 in his 151 appearance.

The 33-year-old became the first player to score in eight consecutive major international tournaments, became the fourth player to score in four World Cups and is the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick.

The draw felt like a win for the 2016 European champions especially after Iran’s surprise win against Morocco. It leaves Group B there for the taking with both nations requiring a win next up.

Santos warning

Fernando Santos sent out a message after the match, saying: “Spain's players didn't let our quality players show what they could do, they were more intense than us. We have to rectify this.”

Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes were underwhelming but Gonçalo Guedes provided an assist and will learn from the experience. I expect João Mário to start against Morocco and João Moutinho to make way for Adrien Silva.

José Fonte was unconvincing and worringly Portugal could have conceded more, but Cristiano Ronaldo showed once again that anything is possible. He has delivered regularly for his country when the pressure is on, perhaps none more important than the exhibition in Sochi.

By Matthew Marshall

Portugal: Rui Patrício, Cédric, Fonte, Pepe, Guerreiro, William, Moutinho, Bruno Fernandes (João Mário, 68’), Ronaldo, Gonçalo Guedes (André Silva, 80’), Bernardo Silva (Ricardo Quaresma, 69’)

Spain: David De Gea, Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Koke, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta (Thiago Alcântara, 70’), Isco, Diego Costa (Iago Aspas 77’), David Silva (Lucas Vazquez, 86’)

Goals:

[1-0] Ronaldo (pen), 4′

[1-1] Diego Costa, 25’

[2-1] Ronaldo, 44’

[2-2] Diego Costa, 55’

[2-3] Nacho, 58’

[3-3] Ronaldo, 88’

 

Comments (23)

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What a game and frankly with a bit more confidence and intensity like the first 15 mins and we would have taken the 3 points. Santos was right in his assessment...we made them look good by not closing them down where he wanted to press which was...

What a game and frankly with a bit more confidence and intensity like the first 15 mins and we would have taken the 3 points. Santos was right in his assessment...we made them look good by not closing them down where he wanted to press which was as they crossed the halfway line...actually we did when we started amd when were chasing the game. Overall, a draw against Spain is a positive and something to build on while the next 5 days Santos will correct some off the mistakes, organize set pieces as all the games have shown how important they are as well as emphasizing intensity in play with and without the ball. We have enough quality on the ball to keep it even against Spain as we showed often. As much as I love CR7 and he got us a point...there is quality there with the youger guys amd off the bench...we cant make the mostake of always looking for him as teams start to man mark him...confidence is key.

Some observations going foward:

There is a chance for ricardo and Dias now as the back line gave away 2 goals that frankly u need to deal with...1 striker vs 4 players near the edge of the box fornthe 1st goaland a set piece for the 2nd! You nees to defend better and they were sloppy mistakes and cedric didnt seem his reliable self....lets see...im not saying to change but its an option.

Its important to balance counter attacking and possession as i know we can do both...the quality is there. The next 2 opponenets will sit far deeper and play on the counter so we must be creatove in possession and use all outlets...dont make the mistake of just looking for cr7.

Goncalo guedes and b. Fernandes played well but it was obvious they both had nerves and that is normal...if you want to get the bet out of them...you stick with them....the bruno fernandes pass to ronaldo who set up gueses on a plate was sublime and something he has and he works so hard...guedes is the same..less nerves and he finishes that...we are up by 2...the beauty ofbthis discussion is that what came off the bench was fantastic to have depth...game changers.

Oh amd b. Fernandes should be taking corners and free kicks that are being sent into box..he has best delivery not j. Mountinho.

Obviously tactics change slightly vs morocco and we will need more agressive and more legs as they are very fast players...we will have more posession and they will sit deep..so Santos has a conundrum with his front 2 and wether he takes out moutinho.

I think this might happen:

Patricio
Cedric pepe dias guerreiro
Martins/b. Silva william a.silva quaresma
Ronaldo a.silva/guedes/ b. Fernandes

In my opinion b. Fernandes needs to play and so does guedes to keep building them...but given the opposition u might see quaresma and andre silva get the nod.

J. Mario might be given a chance in that mid.

R. Pereira might also get a chance.

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Agree Guedes has to keep being played. Even though he looked sub par at times, he did show great control to get the ball and poise to feed Ronaldo for his goal.

He could have done better and first timed shot the pass from Ronaldo on that...

Agree Guedes has to keep being played. Even though he looked sub par at times, he did show great control to get the ball and poise to feed Ronaldo for his goal.

He could have done better and first timed shot the pass from Ronaldo on that counter attack started by Bruno. Maybe he was trying to get it to his right foot or touch it over to Bruno flying in from the right side. If we would have scored in that play, I think we would have killed off the game.

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Can anyone explain why the elbow to Pepe wasn't a foul? I can't think of a possible reason it was not a foul. It was clear and obvious and in the build up to a goal.

Overall we played good, but can for sure improve. Don't know why are first...

Can anyone explain why the elbow to Pepe wasn't a foul? I can't think of a possible reason it was not a foul. It was clear and obvious and in the build up to a goal.

Overall we played good, but can for sure improve. Don't know why are first choice is to have Patricio heave the ball forward, I would have like him to try to build up play, at least give it a try when reasonable. Pepe was open many times with out pressure, and if he got in trouble he could have heaved it forward. He does have good long passes.

Spain worked it to Fonte and then heave...

I could complain and definitely would change a few things, agree with Santos we were many a 6, but was proud of our fight to come back as tired and drained as they were in the humidity.

This game shows we can play with anybody.

Forca!

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Paulo

The reason it wasn't a foul is because it was Pepe, if it had been Fonte, the referee would have had blown for a foul. Pepe has a history of play acting, for such a hard man.

Of course it was a foul..............

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Cristiano Ronaldo - No words. Best in history

William - Second best player on the field after Ronaldo

Everyone else was terrible

Fonte - He was a Ddsaster out there. Alves is even worse though. Dias needs to start

Guedes - So disappointing....

Cristiano Ronaldo - No words. Best in history

William - Second best player on the field after Ronaldo

Everyone else was terrible

Fonte - He was a Ddsaster out there. Alves is even worse though. Dias needs to start

Guedes - So disappointing. But let’s not forget he’s young and has only played a handful of games for the national team. He’s also playing out of position. Hope it was just nerves and he’s gotten it out of his system. Still have lots of hope for him.

Moutinho - I’m having deja vu from 2016. There’s a reason he was dropped for Adrién and we saw today why that was. Adrién needs to be the starter.

Bruno Fernandes - Disappointing. Likes Guedes, we know he can do better.

Bernardo Silva - he’s yet to produce his club form for the nation team

Guerreiro - I though after the last 2 friendlies he was back to his best but clearly not. So many misplaced passes.

Pepe - This worry’s me. He did not look good out there and that’s ridiculously scary when we count on him so much

Cedric - very average. Wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Ricardo out there.

Rui Patricio - not much he could have done on the goals. Defense let him down.

Against Morocco :

------------------------Rui Patrício-------------------------------
Cédric Soares-----Pepe-----------Rúben Dias-----Raphaël Guerreiro
Bernardo Silva---William Carvalho---Adrién Silva---João Mário
--------------André Silva-------------Cristiano Ronaldo---------

Guedes, Bruno, as subs


Overall happy with the point. Spain will be having lots of questions about their team as well especially the so called best goal keeper in the world

We scored 3 against a top 3 favorite. When could you imagine saying that.
Make a few changes defensively and we should be better next game.

I liked Santos criticisms. He’s not happy nor should he be. We need to wise up at the back.

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I think 'terrible' is a harsh word. Not up to their potential is more accurate

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Happy with the result and I'm sure all these "penaldo haters" are getting tired of coming up with the same excuses when Ronaldo shows why he is the GOAT.

It was a friendly... nope.
It was a weak team... nope.
It was only a penalty... nope.
It...

Happy with the result and I'm sure all these "penaldo haters" are getting tired of coming up with the same excuses when Ronaldo shows why he is the GOAT.

It was a friendly... nope.
It was a weak team... nope.
It was only a penalty... nope.
It was a tap-in.... nope.
He can't score on a free kick... sorry keep trying.

I posted earlier that I wouldn't be surprised if we took all 3 points from Spain and then had a draw against Morocco and later said I hope I have that in reverse. Seems that's how it is unfolding.

Scoring early is always gratifying against a strong team but you run the risk of changing your style. I felt that's what happened after the penalty and Spain (who probably deserved the full 3 points) showed their experience.

Two almost guaranteed changes next match will be (1) Alves for Fonte and (2) Joao Mario for Moutinho.

I also think there is a 50/50 chance Santos will put in Silva for Guedes but he will get Guedes back into the match around the 60th min to keep his confidence going. I actually thought Guedes was the second worst player today after Fonte.

Pepe also had a very poor game but we have no depth at CB (Dias is not ready) so Pepe plays again.

I think all the other players will stand out (Bernardo and B.Fernandes especially) in the next two matches given the opponents so no need to change.

Unless Portugal is up by 3 goals and there are less than 15mins I don't believe M.Fernandes or M.Rui will touch the turf this WC.

ConquistaOSonho

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I completely agree Paulo. A pet peeve of mine is seeing goal keepers just kick the back into the middle of the field instead of passing it to their wide open defender. All that does is let the opposition regain possession.

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And I don't mind them playing safe, but quite a few times, he had players open out wide. And if he starts doing that, Spain wouldn't press him as hard, as it would be a waste of energy. And then he would have more time.

Of course, if he slips...

And I don't mind them playing safe, but quite a few times, he had players open out wide. And if he starts doing that, Spain wouldn't press him as hard, as it would be a waste of energy. And then he would have more time.

Of course, if he slips on a short pass...

Strategy and tactics are perfect, until executed by imperfect players.

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Looking over it, I change my mind on that line up. Keep Guedes. He needs the confidence that only playing will give him. Play him in his natural position though.

------------------------Rui Patrício-------------------------------
Cédric...

Looking over it, I change my mind on that line up. Keep Guedes. He needs the confidence that only playing will give him. Play him in his natural position though.

------------------------Rui Patrício-------------------------------
Cédric Soares-----Pepe-----------Rúben Dias-----Raphaël Guerreiro
João Mário---William Carvalho---Adrién Silva---Gonçalo Guedes
--------------André Silva-------------Cristiano Ronaldo---------

Some people will see no Bernardo Silva as blasphemous but like I said, he hasn’t exactly lit it up in a Portugal shirt. Guedes and João Mário can change flanks through out the match

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Best match so far of the tournament

It's hard to pinpoint this one. Not pleased with our performance.. would be blaming Santos until I read that quote which is obviously spot on. I thought there was a bit low-self esteem among our players.....

Best match so far of the tournament

It's hard to pinpoint this one. Not pleased with our performance.. would be blaming Santos until I read that quote which is obviously spot on. I thought there was a bit low-self esteem among our players.. Gonçalo Guedes just his 10th appearance playing at his first World Cup, going up against one of the heavyweights. You can't blame him for catching the jitters. Still provided an assist. The main concern was we allowed Spain waay too much freedom down that right side. If I knew pregame which side Spain were going to attack, I guarantee coaching staff knew twice as much. If they didn't someone has to be fired. We played them man for man instead of overloading and forcing them to switch flanks. Of course, they overrun us in midfield. Nacho despite his steller goal, is a center back not designed to provide any threat what so ever to overlap the opposite side (which would have forced Silva and Costa to drop deeper) still I don't think Portugal took advantage of that match-up as much as they could have. We all saw how Cristiano won that penalty.. So why we played into Spain's strategy the rest of the game beats me. Our line-up was made to be the aggressors which we weren't, we allowed them all the space and time to create those goals. Personnel problem? Maybe. William is William and Moutinho's stamina is not what it once was. Couple this with the aging center backs and any half decent team will be running into space in our final third. The engine that was Renato Sanches is greatly missed. Guedes should have parked himself on the left wing instead of moving to the right which again meant we were conceding to Spain. Bernardo's whole purpose on the right side in a match like this was to use his vision and passing to penetrate the initial pressure Spain were putting on when they lost the ball to open up the pitch and release CR7 and Guedes.

Foul on Pepe was blatantly obvious.. not surprised the useless VAR team choose to ignore it. Pepe and Costa were challenging for the ball and Costa made contact with his face. End of story

Pepe and Fonte were in la-la land on Costa's second goal. Expecting Ruben Dias to be called into action (hopefully asap). He needs to step up for a deep run to happen this year.

All in all thanks to you know who, most would agree a good chunk of frustration has changed to joy and optimism heading into our second match. Nothing better than having the chance to learn from mistakes with the group still wide open.

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It really is hard to take anything from this game.

Why is Guedes nervous? He plays vs Real, Atletico and Barca every week. How is this different as a pro? I think young players put too much pressure on themselves trying to impress or keep up...

It really is hard to take anything from this game.

Why is Guedes nervous? He plays vs Real, Atletico and Barca every week. How is this different as a pro? I think young players put too much pressure on themselves trying to impress or keep up with CR7. You can't, nobody can just play your game. He doesn't need you to be him, he just needs you to play. Ronaldo was really trying to rally the troops at the end there, think he saw slit of players looking like they let him down.

Spain went down the right side over and over and over and nothing was stopped. Comical defending on both Costa goals, Nacho,s was a beauty. Fonte plays like he is already in China.

2 leads given away. 3 goals against is bad. Team just reinforces that they are 1 man squad. Thats the worst part.

Like a good friend told me, best part about the game was Ronaldo. Worst part of the game someday Ronaldo will retire.

A draw is good considering Iran did nothing and stole a win. Morocco forced to attack Portugal now. Coach Santos will fix what needs fixing he always does. He is our MVP.

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Add-ons

Judging from what I witnessed in Morocco-Iran game, Morocco will be that hurdle standing in the way of Portugal and Spain. They are a fast team with decent technical players. Iran fluke'd their way to 3 points which now means Morocco...

Add-ons

Judging from what I witnessed in Morocco-Iran game, Morocco will be that hurdle standing in the way of Portugal and Spain. They are a fast team with decent technical players. Iran fluke'd their way to 3 points which now means Morocco can't afford to park the bus against us. They need a win.

Moutinho should start but only against teams where Portugal are expected to dominate possession. His calmness, link-up play, and experience is what sets him apart from all our other midfield choices. Moutinho truly is the only one built to initiate attacks from the back which allows Bernardo, Guedes, and Cristiano to receive the ball in deeper areas of the opponents half. Now, against teams where we are clearly outmatched in the middle.. like verses Spain, Adrien offers some value but very little I would argue. While he may be better at stifling the opposing player, he does not possess the flexibility that is required of him when Portugal are transitioning from defense to attack. The only time Adrien can be utilized effectively is when Portugal are trying to protect a lead.

It's no secret Portugal's strength is in attack, so even if we do get the privilege of facing off against another juggernaut this tournament.. one that is going to the control possession over us, I believe Santos should try playing Joao Mario + Bruno Fernandes together for an approach that exerts more pace (to recover the ball) and directness (to improve our counterattacks).

I believe this will give Portugal the best shot for ultimate success.. but knowing the mental state of Fernando Santos, he is going to have to move on from the strategy that brought us home the Euro Cup.

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All in all it's 1 point and that's the most important. I've harped on the fact that we need another two consistent scorers and I've been called out on that. I also said that we can't give up set piece goals and sure enough look at Diego costas...

All in all it's 1 point and that's the most important. I've harped on the fact that we need another two consistent scorers and I've been called out on that. I also said that we can't give up set piece goals and sure enough look at Diego costas second goal. That's what I was talking about, it's the second ball that costs us so often. I'm a little concerned about Guedes first touch and decision making but I'm going to chalk it up to his nerves but in my eyes that's who he is. We need to win out to comfortably advance. Last thing, I think we needed gelson earlier just for his speed and creativity. I love Quaresma as I myself am 34 so I don't like the idea of aging but gelson adds an aspect to our game that you can't defend against. Buckley your seat belts boys!

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Val, playing in a league match is different than playing your first World Cup game against one of the favorites. On top of that both Guedes and Bruno have very little experience with the national team. At the end of the day they’re still human...

Val, playing in a league match is different than playing your first World Cup game against one of the favorites. On top of that both Guedes and Bruno have very little experience with the national team. At the end of the day they’re still human and nerves get to everyone. Why do you think so many experienced players miss penalties? We have to also remember that both are playing out of position. Bruno is a CM/CAM not a LM and Guedes is a LM not a striker.

On the bright side, we managed to score 3 goals and nab a point against one of the favorites despite so many of our players being subpar so imagine when everyone starts clicking and playing their best. Sky’s the limit

Ronaldo is a man possessed and will do everything he can to win this World Cup. I really do hope the rest of the team gets it’s act together. I hope Ronaldo’s ankle is ok

This defense needs to so better. That first Costa goal was ridiculous. On his second goal my commentator said move by move what Spain were going to do and lo and behold he was 100% correct. I facepalmed so hard.

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Fair points Joao.

I still cant wrap my head around 2 lost leads and giving up 3 goals. Both Costa goals were due to atrocious defense. I know Portugal scored 3 as well so i guess it all evens out.

Just another night of heart attack Selecao...

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Fellas, although Guedes was bad in the first game, the team should still stick with him and help him. He SHOULD attack the goal more.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I cannot take credit for Ronaldo’s current form, you can only give credit to his mother for creating such a specimen!”

Maurizio Sarri
(Juventus coach) 

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