World Cup wrap, Day 2: Ronaldo steals the stage with hat trick
Story of the day
Cristiano Ronaldo proved for the umpteenth time that he is one of soccer’s all-time greats, scoring three goals to carry Portugal on his back – as ever – in a 3-3 draw with Spain.
The Iberian Peninsula clash was one of the most-anticipated meetings on the World Cup schedule for the group stage, and it didn’t disappoint. Ronaldo opened the scoring just four minutes into the match after drawing a somewhat soft penalty, and he and Spain striker Diego Costa traded goals before this screamer from Nacho put Spain ahead:
Spain, which fired its head coach two days earlier after it was announced he would take the Real Madrid job following the tournament, looked like it was on its way to a tournament-opening victory – until Ronaldo struck again.
Today in 30 seconds
Drama, drama, drama. All three games on Friday saw results change in the final minutes. Ronaldo struck his gorgeous equalizer in the 88th minute.
Earlier in the day, Egypt looked like it would eke out a scoreless draw against heavily-favored Uruguay, but conceded the winning goal in the 89th minute. Jose Giminez nodded home the goal to deliver heartbreak for Egypt.
Iran pulled off a miraculous theft in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time, defeating Morocco 1-0 behind a cruel own goal.
Play of the day
There’s a theme here, and you probably guessed it: Ronaldo. Just have a look at this beauty of a third goal.
Man of the moment
Ronaldo’s first tally already cemented him a unique place in history. He became just the fourth male player to score in four different World Cup tournaments, joining Brazil’s Pele, and Germans Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.
And Portugal’s captain was already the subject of the day even before kickoff. Spanish news outlets reported that the Real Madrid star had reached a deal with Spanish tax authorities to serve a two-year suspended jail sentence and pay €18.8 million ($21.8m) fine in a tax evasion case. The timing of the leak was gamesmanship at its finest.
The wacky and weird
Breaking from our regularly-scheduled Ronaldo programming, let’s have a look at Egypt: Star Mohamed Salah was declared by his coach on Thursday to be fit enough to play a role – potentially off the bench – for Egypt. Salah is one of the best players in the world, but none of Egypt’s three substitutions were Salah.
Instead, the striker was left to watch hopelessly on his 26th birthday as what would have been a dream draw for Egypt slipped away in the final moments. Egypt coach Hector Cuper said after the loss that he decided to hold Salah for the next match against Russia.
Also, can we talk about this blooper from Spain goalkeeper David de Gea?
Saturday offers a packed slate of four games, with all teams from groups C and D playing. Get the coffee ready – the action begins at 6 a.m. ET.
6 a.m. ET: France vs. Australia, FS1
9 a.m. ET: Argentina vs. Iceland, FOX
Noon, ET: Peru vs. Denmark, FS1
3 p.m. ET: Croatia vs. Nigeria, FS1