Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Portugal will progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup after his hat-trick stunned Spain in an astonishing 3-3 draw in Sochi.
Ronaldo – at 33 years and 130 days – became the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick, twice putting Portugal ahead before his 88th-minute free-kick secured a precious 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.”
Ronaldo’s records might stack up like his goals, but he was determined to focus on the team ethos of the reigning European champions.
Spain dominated for large periods – 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 in quotes reported on fpf.pt.
“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.”