Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick brought him level with Ferenc Puskas for the most international goals by a European player, while he also reached a number of World Cup landmarks in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain in Sochi, Russia, on Friday.
Ronaldo scored his 82nd, 83rd and 84th career goals for Portugal to match Puskas, who played for Hungary from 1945 to 1956 and for whom FIFA has named its Goal of the Year Award.
At 33, Ronaldo also became the oldest player to score a hat trick in the World Cup, breaking the record of Dutch forward Rob Rensenbrink, who was nearly 31 at the 1978 World Cup.
“I am very happy,” he said after the game. “This is the product of a lot of years of work. People have always believed in me and I work hard for my country. ”
The hat trick also was the 51st of Ronaldo’s career for club and country — but the first time his team failed to win. However, Ronaldo said he thought the draw was a “fair result.”
“The World Cup just started. We can go through this group phase, we know it is going to be tough, difficult but we have to focus on each match, and go match by match,” he added.
“We are not the favourites, but yes, we are candidates. We are going to do the best we possibly can. We want to try to beat Morocco and to try to advance to the next stage. The team is doing everything very well.”
Ronaldo’s personal success came at an event in which he has previously struggled to be at his best, as he matched his goal tally from his previous 13 World Cup appearances combined.
But, much like his equalising 88th-minute free kick against Spain, Ronaldo’s previous three goals all came late in the game as well. He became the fourth player in World Cup history with at least four career goals in the 80th minute or later, joining Gerd Muller and Roberto Baggio — who both have five — and Gary Lineker.