Shae Beaudoin - Orlando City SC/mlsfemale
Official Orlando City Reporter

By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz

Group B: June 15

Long-time rivals Spain and Portugal met early in this year’s World Cup shuffle and arguably, this game was the most anticipated of the initial pairings. The two played on Friday afternoon and gave us a game we never wanted to end and exactly the type of match we expect from the World Cup.

My heart is with both Spain and Portugal. I know, this is a party foul. But if you follow me, you know I love Real Madrid, and my team is split between Spain and Portugal so I will happily root for both as long as I can. This first matchup between the two was exactly the game I could have hoped for. Welcome to the 2018 World Cup, everyone! I hope we’re all ready for a ride!

The excitement started early when just 3 minutes in Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo was taken down inside the box and awarded a penalty kick. Ronaldo made light work of tucking that away and put Portugal on the board. Things remained pretty quiet until Spain’s Diego Costa tied things up 20 minutes later.

And poor David De Gea, arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, didn’t quite get a full grasp on the ball. It slipped past him and Ronaldo brought the score to Portugal 2, Spain 1, going into halftime. And if you thought it was intense to this point, just wait, we have another 45 full minutes to cover.

Spain came back from halftime with a vengeance. The 2010 FIFA World Cup winners are not ones you want to count out early. David Costa tucked one away, and José Ignacio Fernández Iglesias (better known as Nacho) followed, bringing the score to Spain 3, Portugal 2.

In the 87th minute, Spain gave away another costly foul, awarding Ronaldo a free kick dangerously close to the box. A beautiful kick with a perfect curve made it around the Spanish wall and right into the top corner of the net. And just like that, Cristiano Ronaldo secured his hat-trick, became the oldest player in World Cup history to do so, and matched the number of career goals he’s made in all his World Cup appearances in just 90 minutes.

And that brings our score to 3-3, which is where it ended. Didn’t I say this match was one we didn’t want to end? If you missed it, try to catch a replay. Seriously. This game was insanity.

Group B also includes Iran and Morocco. Iran defeated Morocco 1-0 just before Spain and Portugal clashed, so Iran currently sits nicely at the top of the group with 3 points, Spain and Portugal are tied with 1 point each. How are we feeling so far? Is this the year Ronaldo adds a World Cup to his impressive collection? 

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