A countdown of the 10 most memorable moments of Portuguese football in 2018: PART 10
10. Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick against Spain at the World Cup
It could hardly have been a better start to the 2018 World Cup for one of the world’s best. When Cristiano Ronaldo lit up the biggest sporting event in the world, against one of the greatest footballing nations to ever grace the earth, with the whole world watching, there was a sense of pleasure, pride and optimism back home in Portugal.
It was a truly memorable individual display, the like of which one rarely has the privilege of witnessing on the biggest stage, and there were elements of Eusebio 1966 versus North Korea when Ronaldo single-handedly dragged Portugal to an impressive point against the 2010 world champions.
His first goal came after just 180 seconds from the spot, first winning the penalty after charging into the box before converting past David de Gea.
He grabbed his second once Portugal had been drawn level thanks to Diego Costa’s goal, a long-range, hopeful effort that was too powerful for de Gea, who let the ball go through him and in off the post.
When Portugal fell behind for the first time on the night thanks to a rapid Spain double, it looked as if the Selecao had to settle for nothing in a match where even a point would have been very respectable, particularly as stoppage time quickly approached.
Portugal were given a lifeline though, a cheap free-kick given on the edge of the box. Ronaldo, who had grown quite a reputation for failing to convert from free-kicks despite taking so many, stepped up yet again, and to the delight of supporters watching on, placed the most glorious of free-kicks into the top right corner, over the wall and into the back of the net.
A stunning way to round off a sensational hattrick, and a great way to round off this list of most memorable moments of 2018.