XtraTime Web Desk: Portugal ace forward Cristiano Ronaldo is confident that his side will reach the knockout stages of the World Cup after a sensational hat-trick helped Portugal to play out a 3-3 draw with Spain in Sochi.
Ronaldo at the age of 33 years and 130 days became the oldest footballer to score a World Cup hat-trick. He put his twice ahead in the game and later in the 88th-minute scored a remarkable goal from a free-kick to secure a crucial point.
It was the 51st treble of Ronaldo’s goal-filled career as he became the fourth player to score in four different World Cups and the first to do so at eight consecutive international tournaments.
The draw means Portugal and Spain are both currently playing catch-up in Group B as Iran shocked Morocco 1-0 earlier in the day to top the group, but Ronaldo is confident his side can qualify for the knockout stages.
“We have to look to the next match now because our goal is to win,” Ronaldo said. “We have to take it match by match and move on through the group stage.
“We are not the favourites but we will do our best and try to beat Morocco on Wednesday. I think the team played very well and is going to do well for sure.”
Spain dominated most of the game with Diego Costa twice equalised and Nacho put them ahead with a superb strike – but Portugal rallied in the final moments for Ronaldo to level.
“I am very happy, and I always believe in myself,” the Real Madrid forward added.
“It is one more [hat-trick] in my career but the most important thing to me is to highlight what the team has done.
He added: “We played against a favourite team that wants to win the World Cup and we were winning twice during the game.
“We almost made those three points and we managed to draw. We are very happy because this game was about to end and we managed to equalise.
“We have to evaluate what the team did because it was a very hard-fought game.”