Cristiano hat-trick taints Hierro's first match as Spain coach

Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the equaliser in the 88th minute.
Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the equaliser in the 88th minute. / AFP
  • World Cup 2018

  • The Real Madrid forward scored a late freekick to level the World Cup Group B opener for Portugal

A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick sealed a late point for Portugal against Spain to put a dampener on new coach Fernando Hierro's first game in charge of the national side on Friday night.

Ronaldo gave his side an early lead in the World Cup Group B opener in Sochi when he won and then converted a penalty in the fourth minute.

Spain, however, levelled it in the 24th minute when Diego Costa used his strength to beat Pepe to the long ball before lashing the ball low past a helpless Rui Patricio.

Despite controlling the play, Spain gifted Portugal a second goal just before half time when Ronaldo’s powerful low shot crept into the corner after keeper David De Gea failed to get his whole body behind the ball.

Hierro’s side reemerged in the second half in control and made their dominance pay when Diego Costa bagged his second, poking home Sergio Busquets’ headed knock-down a matter of yards from the goal line.

Just three minutes later, Spain had the lead for the first time on the night. The goal came from an unlikely source as stand-in right-back Nacho smashed home a half volley from the edge of the area.

Despite having more than half an hour still to play, this looked to be the winner as Spain played a possession game and Portugal’s players started to tire.

But when Gerard Piqué conceded a freekick on the edge of the area with two minutes left on the clock, up stepped Ronaldo and placed the ball in the top corner leaving De Gea rooted to the spot.

Despite the draw, Hierro was upbeat: “The team fought hard and showed their personality. This is very important.”

Spain next play on Wednesday against Carlos Queiroz’s Iran side who picked up an unlikely 1-0 win against Morocco earlier on Friday.