Spain and Portugal are two of the great teams of the 21st century.
They have won last three European Championships, and Spain captured the 2010 World Cup title. But their meetings have
often fallen flat. Since 2004, they had met three times in major competitions before Friday night and the games produced a combined two goals.
Both teams surpassed that in Sochi, where
they played to a 3-3 tie that fans will be talking about for years.
Spain twice came back from a goal down and took a 3-2 lead in the second half only to have Cristiano Ronaldo
equalize on a
free kick in the 88th minute with his third goal of the game. The hat trick was his first ever at the World Cup and matched his goal production in his first 13 games over three World Cups.
"I'm very happy," Ronaldo said. "it's my first hat trick at a World Cup. We've drawn with one of the favorites to win the World Cup."
Spain is one of the favorites but it came into
the game in turmoil following the firing of head coach Julen Lopetegui
on Wednesday. Nerves were evident as Nacho
, a replacement at right back for his injured Real Madrid teammate
, fouled Ronaldo in the area for a penalty in the fourth minute. Right before halftime, goalkeeper David de Gea
let Ronaldo's shot slip through his hands.
, Lopetegui's replacement, backed de Gea after his howler.
"We are a team," said the new Spain coach, "and know that there are players who have had better days. We
are a family and we are a team. We won't leave anyone abandoned from the team."
What Hierro liked was how Spain came back to take the lead.
"It makes you happy when you have
players like this, with personality and quality," he said. "They don't have any doubt about what they want. Coming back from behind twice is very important." Diego Costa
first two Spain goals, and Nacho made up for his error with the third goal, a fierce side-volley from distance off the far post.
"I think we deserved to win," said Diego Costa, who had
his best game in five years with Spain. "We created a lot more and had more of the ball. We equalized twice but we couldn't get the win at the end."