By Eric Elezuo

Cristiano Rionaldo scored a hat trick, the 51st in his soccer career, to prevent his team, Portugal, from suffering an impending defeat against Spain at the ongoing Russia 2018 World Cup.

His last free-kick that gave Portugal the equalizer was in exercise in determination and professionalism. Everything about that kick suggests goal – He pulled his shorts to lap level, took one last look at the ball on the floor, gazed un-distracted at the goal…the exact place he wanted the ball to go. His focus, passion, attention and committment were deposited in the kick, and no one was surprised when it curved all the way and hit the back of the net. That was was vintage C. Ronaldo.
The Portuguese captain, put in an effort that sets the real tone for a real World Cup and hailed his three goals as ‘personal best’.

Ronaldo produced a display of individual brilliance, as his side avoided defeat in their 2018 World Cup opening fixture against La Roja.

The Real Madrid forward opened the scoring with a penalty, before Diego Costa levelled with a fine solo effort.

Ronaldo made it 2-1 before the break, but Costa struck again in the second half. Nacho slammed in a stunner to make it 3-2.

Ronaldo was on target again late on to rescue the equaliser with a brilliant free-kick.

“I always believed in myself, I work for this,” he told RTP after the final whistle.

“I want to highlight the team’s response, we played until the end, we did not shy away from the fight. The draw was fair.”

He later told reporters of his hat-trick: “I’m very happy. It’s a personal best. It’s a great moment. One more in my career.

“But what’s more important is how the team played. We were playing a great team. In my opinion, it was a fair result. Obviously we are very happy because the game was about to end and we managed to equalise. It was a hard-fought game.

“We are not the favourites but we are candidates. We will do our best. Now we will try to win on Wednesday against Morocco so we can move on to the next stage. I think the team is doing very well.”

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