World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: Ronaldo’s hat-trick vs. Spain

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with Ronaldo’s ridiculous hat-trick vs. Spain.

Three games had been played by the time Portugal and Spain met on the second day of the 2018 World Cup. The fourth may have been the match of the tournament.

In the first meeting between the historic rivals in six years, Portuguese superstar Crisitano Ronaldo opened the scoring by converting a fourth minute penalty. Diego Costa pulled Spain level midway through the first half. Ronaldo put his team back in front — on a shot keeper David de Gea should’ve saved — just before the break. Costa got his second equalizer of the match 10 minutes after it.

La Roja then flipped the back-and-forth script, taking the lead for the first time on a strike by Nacho Fernandez. With four goals inside an hour, both squads had seemingly exhausted their attacking reserves. But a few minutes before the final whistle, Portugal was awarded a free kick outside the box. Ronaldo lined up to take it. He couldn’t possibly complete his hat trick in the most dramatic and spectacular way possible, could he? Of course he could

Sergio Busquets strained to block the living legend’s right-footed effort, but Ronaldo sent his curling shot around Spain’s wall and past a helpless de Gea, who didn’t even bother to dive.

There was no stopping Ronaldo that day.

Ronaldo’s hat trick

Ronaldo came through for Portugal when they needed him most at the 2018 World Cup.

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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