Cristiano Ronaldo scored the 51st hat-trick of his illustrious career and, in the process, rescued a point for Portugal in their 2018 World Cup opener against Spain on Friday night.
In a game that will go down as a World Cup classic, Ronaldo completed his hat-trick in the 88th minute with one of the best free-kicks of his career.
It was the 33-year-old who broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the fourth minute. Diego Costa levelled the scores midway through the first half but Ronaldo’s speculative effort on the stroke of half-time left David de Gea red-faced.
Costa then equalised for the second time 10 minutes after the restart before Nacho put La Roja ahead with a magnificent strike shortly afterwards.
However, it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the hour for Ronaldo, whose remarkable free-kick left De Gea absolutely no chance.
Ronaldo could have been forgiven for revelling in the limelight after such a talismanic performance and making it all about himself in his post-match interview.
He’s often accused of being egotistical, selfish and caring more about himself than either his club or his country.
WHAT RONALDO SAID AFTER THE GAME WAS CLASS
However, what Ronaldo said immediately after Portugal’s dramatic draw against Spain shows that many football fans don’t know the true Cristiano.
“Above all we have to stress the efforts of the team,” Ronaldo told reporters after the match, per Portuguese football writer Tom Kundert. “We fought until the end.”
Rather than making it all about himself, he decided to praise the efforts of his teammate’s instead.
THIS WILL COME AS A SHOCK TO SOME PEOPLE
That will come as shock to some people who believe Ronaldo only thinks about himself.
But this shows exactly why he wears the captain’s armband for his country.
“We showed that we will always fight to the end,” Ronaldo added. “Spain dominated possession, they’re one of the best sides in the world, but we believed until the end.”
However, without Ronaldo, Portugal almost certainly would have lost this match. *He* believed until the end.