Ronaldo hat-trick steals the show as Portugal and Spain draw classic

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SOCHI, JUN 16 (DNA) – Cristiano Ronaldo made it clear that he means business at this World Cup after his stunning hat-trick secured a 3-3 draw here with Spain in a tournament classic and saw him reach another career landmark.The Real Madrid superstar crashed in an 88th-minute free-kick to earn a point for the European champions in this Group B opener, after a second-half goal from Nacho had put the Spaniards 3-2 ahead.

Before that, Ronaldo had twice given his side the lead in the first half, only for Diego Costa to equalise each time for a Spanish side who peformed admirably on a steamy night on Russia´s Black Sea coast after a chaotic few days.

Fernando Hierro was making his debut on their bench, just two days after the sensational sacking of Julen Lopetegui, but Ronaldo stole the headlines.

After only three goals in total at the last three World Cups, he doubled his tournament tally in one night here, and has now scored at eight consecutive major tournaments going back to Euro 2004, when he was still a teenager.

He is just the fourth player to score at four World Cups, following in the footsteps of Pele and German duo Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.

“It´s a nice personal record to have, one more in my career,” said Ronaldo, before adding: “For me the most important thing is to emphasise what the team did against one of the favourites to win this World Cup.”

His hat-trick came just hours after legal sources in Spain said Ronaldo had agreed to pay the Spanish taxman 18.8 million euros ($20 million) to settle a tax fraud claim.

But Ronaldo was clearly not distracted by that, and his team-mate Bernardo Silva admitted after the game that “when he plays like that, everything is possible.”

Ronaldo had put Portugal ahead from a fourth-minute penalty after going down in the box under a foul from his Real club colleague Nacho, playing at right-back with Dani Carvajal not fit.