Cristiano Ronaldo lights up World Cup with hat-trick against Spain in a draw match

“The night was about Cristiano. He is relentless in his pursuit of greatness. What he is doing on the world stage is ridiculous.”

Match of the Day pundit Rio Ferdinand said he “couldn’t breathe” as former Manchester United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, including an 88th-minute equaliser, as Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a classic World Cup encounter.

In by far the best game of the tournament so far, Ronaldo twice put Portugal in front, Diego Costa replied each time, Nacho gave Spain the lead with a stunning volley and Ronaldo then had the last word with a superb free kick he won himself.

Ronaldo has a relatively poor free-kick record for Portugal and when he and Raphael Guerreiro both stepped up in the 88th minute, many of their fans might have hoped the left back would have been allowed to have a go instead of his skipper.

Instead, Ronaldo stood with his legs apart in familiar pose, rolled up his shorts and curled an exquisite effort around the Spain wall and into the net past the helpless David de Gea.

“It’s a brilliant free-kick and it is technically so difficult to do,” said former England midfielder Danny Murphy. “He went over and around the wall and it had all sorts of bend and dip on it.”

Speaking on Russia Today, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho offered a reminder that Ronaldo’s free-kick record has worsened since his days at Old Trafford and early years at Real, but added that “this one was the critical one”.

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