The Denver Post
Portugal star Ronaldo scores a hat trick in 3-3 tie with Spain in opening-round match.
2010 champion Spain dominates but unable to dim Portugal’s star
SOCHI, RUSSIA» Cristiano Ronaldo used the World Cup to show everyone he’s the GOAT.
Ronaldo rubbed his chin after scoring minutes into Portugal’s opener against Spain, implying he is the Greatest of All Time. Then he scored two more goals, including a perfectly placed 88th-minute free kick that gave his team a 3-3 draw Friday.
Spain, the 2010 World Cup champion, dominated much of the match but was unable to contain Ronaldo.
“When I play against a player like Ronaldo, these things can happen,” newly appointed Spain coach Fernando Hierro said. “It’s very fortunate for whatever team has Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Ronaldo had twice given European champion Portugal the lead with first-half goals at Fisht Stadium, but Diego Costa equalized with a goal in each half. Nacho Fernandez then put the Spanish ahead with a one-timer from outside the area in the Group B match.
Ronaldo became the fourth player to score in four World Cups, joining Pele, Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler. He also became the first Portuguese player to appear in four World Cups, and at 33 became the oldest player to score a hat trick in tournament history.
He used his first goal to send a message to the world in an apparent reaction to Adidas’ “GOAT” promotion with Lionel Messi, featuring the Argentine with a real goat. Ronaldo and Messi have split the last 10 player of the year awards.
Ronaldo downplayed his sixth international hat trick. “To me, the most important (thing) is to highlight what the team has done.”
Spain looked to have successfully overcome its dramatic coaching change one the eve of the tournament but Ronaldo curled a late shot from about 25 meters (yards) over the wall. The ball went into the top corner as Spain goalkeeper David de Gea watched.
The Spanish federation fired coach Julen Lopetegui for accepting a job with Real Madrid without letting it know in advance. Hierro, a former player acting as Spain’s sporting director, replaced Lopetegui despite no significant previous coaching experience.
Iran 1, Morocco 0. » ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA Aziz Bouhaddouz, head in his hands and face buried in the turf, was probably unaware of the opposing players and coaches swarming all around him in jubilation.
Some teammates tried to console him, but it did little good.
In the second dramatic finish to a World Cup match on Friday, Iran was gifted a 1-0 win over Morocco in Group B because of Bouhaddouz’s own-goal in the fifth minute of injury time.
Uruguay 1, Egypt 0. YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA» In a team that boasts one of the World Cup’s most potent attacks, two defenders combined to give Uruguay a late 1-0 victory over Egypt on Friday.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin and teammate Jose Gimenez, who anchor the back line at Atletico Madrid as well as the national team’s traditionally solid defense, did their job in front of their own goalkeeper and then combined for the winning strike in the 89th minute, giving Uruguay its first opening-match victory at the World Cup in 48 years.