If you have not yet watched the thrilling World Cup match between Portugal and Spain then you had best get it on some kind of TV catch up.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the game. Twice Portugal led and Spain were brought back to level terms by the physical play and skill of Diego Costa, but when Portugal trailed in the closing stages and had a free kick outside the Spanish box, there was only one man you knew who would take it.
Up came Ronaldo, curling the ball around the right side of the wall, past Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos (yes, that guy who took out Mo Salah in the Champions League), and past Manchester United keeper David de Gea, who was flatfooted and rooted to the spot. There was nothing he could do about the free kick, because the wall had been placed to his left, but the ball had such bend to it that even de Gea could not have anticipated it would have gone in from that side. He more or less had trusted the wall to protect that side, but even Ramos’ attempt to flick the ball away had no effect.
Spain might have had a chance to win the game had Ramos decided, in the same way he had done Salah, to chicken-wing Ronaldo out of the game by injuring his shoulder ligaments, and taking out the opposing team’s best player, but that would have been a one-way exit out of Madrid for the captain. Don’t put it past him, though. And don’t put it past Ronaldo either. Wasn’t he the guy who got ex-team mate Wayne Rooney sent off in a game, before being caught giving a devilish wink as if to say, yes, I’d intended for him to get sent off?
Say what you like about Ronaldo, though, at age 33 he is still showing no signs of slowing down. Like Ryan Giggs, he still looks like he has a few good years left in him. His technique hasn’t suffered, but is it because of the recent changes in balls that has resulted in him scoring more goals? When the ball technology was improved, many people were ambivalent about them, but that is pretty normal, because new things start from the periphery and end up in the mainstream when accepted or tolerated over time, as this Stroud Green piano teacher tells us, using music as an example. Now kids are buying the balls and wanting to demonstrate skills – such is their popularity. Has Ronaldo drawn more followers to football, or have footballs drawn more followers to Ronaldo? That is one you have to decide for yourself!
Ronaldo’s three goals meant he equalled Ferenc Puskas’ record of 84 goals in European competitions. One can surmise he will be going calmly past the mark with a bit more calm and ease.