By Thomas Strong
Last Updated: 19th June 2018
Is Cristiano Ronaldo the greatest modern day footballer in the world? Going by the unrivalled performance he displayed yesterday in his opening World Cup match against Spain, there is little to suggest otherwise.
When hearing the words “Ronaldo” and “Word Cup Legend” you’d be forgiven for thinking of his Brazilian namesake, however Cristiano’s performance last night was a strong candidate for him to be mentioned in the same breath.
Ronaldo took full control of the game from the start, drawing the foul for his first penalty, and doing the same for his hat-trick free kick, which was his first direct free kick goal in 45 attempts. It’s at times like this that true world cup legends rise to the occasion, delivering what become historic football moments.
Nothing can be taken away from the comeback of Spain, and in particularly Diego Costa, who would have been justified in assuming that he’d single-handedly turned the tides following his two solo efforts.
English premiership fans around the world will be very much accustomed to Diego Costa’s relentless approach to the game with Chelsea fans benefitting from his work rate and determination over the years. His first goal followed in true Diego Costs fashion with another contentious moment, followed by a brilliant finish.
After coming off with Spain 3-2 up and only 13 minutes remaining, it did feel like Spain were going to call upon their World Cup and European championship cup winning pedigree and close out the game. At this point it was a question of whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo, at 33 years of age, had enough left in the tank following another long season culminating in a Champions League victory over Liverpool.
To draw a foul against Gerard Pique, and step up to a free kick in in the closing moments of a World Cup game, with the nation’s hopes resting on your shoulders, takes more than confidence. But Ronaldo thrives on these moments, and he delivered once more by bending the free kick past David de Gea, sending the crowd into raptures and salvaging a point for Portugal in what’s likely to be their toughest group B game.
This was no doubt a legendary performance. While Spain may be seeing this as two points dropped, the reality is that Ronaldo is a true force to be reckoned with as he continues to strive for World Cup greatness.