The much-anticipated Group B opener between Portugal and Spain lived up to its billing in a 3-3 draw on Friday with Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick rescuing Portugal a valuable point.
A first-half brace from Ronaldo sandwiched a Diego Costa goal to give the defending European champions a slim lead after 45 minutes in Sochi. And a dramatic late Ronaldo free kick cancelled out second-half goals from Costa and Nacho to secure a thrilling draw on the night.
Ronaldo won a penalty in just the third minute when his quick stepover caught out Real Madrid teammate Nacho, whose clumsy lunge clipped him just inside the box.
The resulting goal from the spot goal marked the second-fastest goal in Portugal’s World Cup history, falling only behind Jose Augusto’s strike against Hungary at the 1966 edition in England.
Spain worked their first chance on 10 minutes — Costa cushioning down a cross in the box for David Silva to volley high with his less-favored right foot.
Portugal would rue the missed opportunity seconds later when Costa out-fought Pepe to a 50-50 ball, settled at the top of the box, patiently worked the ball onto his right foot and beat keeper Rui Patricio with an excellent shot across the Sporting man’s face to equalize.
Ronaldo just before the break got his second of the day — his low-and-hard shot receiving an assist from De Gea, who shockingly bundled what should have been an easy save into his own net.
The lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Costa collected his second 10 minutes after the restart when he tapped home after a smart Sergio Busquets header found him free of his marker at the goalmouth.
Nacho made up for his earlier error in spectacular fashion three minutes later with a smashing right-footed volley from outside of the box that banged off both posts before settling into the net.
But Ronaldo would have the final say two minutes from time as his free kick from the top of the box leapt over the wall and then dipped under the crossbar to give his country a vital late point.
Spain are back in action on Wednesday against Group B leaders Iran in Kazan, while Portugal will look for their first win against Morocco in Moscow.