Cristiano Ronaldo was in superb form against the Spanish. Picture: AP
Cristiano Ronaldo was in superb form against the Spanish. Picture: AP

Freak Ronaldo sends World Cup berserk on day two

A CRISTIANO Ronaldo masterclass in Sochi carried Portugal to a stunning draw with Spain as the legendary striker claimed his 51st career hat-trick.

The huge match day kicked off with Uruguay claiming a win over Egypt with a goal in the dying minutes.

Iran endured a nightmare start to their World Cup campaign after Nike pulled their equipment, but the luck was in their favour as they defeated Morocco thanks to an own-goal.

Legendary forward Cristiano Ronaldo stole back a draw in the dying minutes of Portugal's Group clash against Spain, sealing his 51st career hat-trick with a stunning free kick.

The action kicked off early after Ronaldo was granted a penalty in the box following a knock from Spain's Jose "Nacho" Iglesias in the third minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo has set the World Cup alight.
Cristiano Ronaldo has set the World Cup alight.

 

The Real Madrid star slotted in the free kick with ease to put the underdogs ahead before anybody could blink.

Spain hit back soon after in the 24th minute with an incredible effort from Diego Costa, who sliced through three defenders with relative ease before finding the back of the net to level the score.

The Spaniards kept ample pressure on the men in red all the way up until half-time with the passing delights of their front four forcing the opposition's defence to work overtime.

But a momentary passage of play in the waning seconds before the break got onaldo through for a second and left the Portuguese on top.

A long ball from the midfield found its way to Ronaldo's boot. A quick step around the final defender left the Real Madrid star one-on-one with goalkeeper David De Gea, who fudged his save and handed Portugal the lead.

Costa scored his second goal of the night shortly after after cleaning up a header from teammate Sergio Busquets following a free kick in the 55th minute.

The Spaniard was joined on the scoreboard by teammate Jose "Nacho" Iglesias after a stylish procession of play left him open for a long shot on goal. The defender curled the ball perfectly past goalkeeper Rui Patrício's glove and brought the score to 3-2 with half an hour remaining on the clock.

Ronaldo made it a hat-trick late in the piece after slotting in a beautiful free kick, curving the ball over the wall and into the back of the net to leave the score at 3-3 with a minute left on the clock.

 Ronaldo has agreed to pay the Spanish taxman $A29 million) to settle a tax fraud claim, a legal source said on  Friday.

The agreement still has to be ratified and will likely come with a two-year jail term - although sentences of up to two years are not generally served in Spain.

The former Manchester United player  appeared in court last July at Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy Madrid suburb, to answer four counts of tax evasion.

Prosecutors allege the five-time Ballon d'Or winner took "advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities".

He is alleged to have used companies in low-tax foreign jurisdictions - notably the British Virgin Islands and Ireland - to avoid having to pay the tax otherwise due.

- with AFP

Iran players celebrate their incredible success.
Iran players celebrate their incredible success

Morocco v Iran

For the second straight game a last minute header has been the decider, only this time it was an own goal that separated the teams.

Morocco dominated the contest against Iran but couldn't capitalise and were left distraught after Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net with less than two minutes remaining.

The goal handed the three points to Iran and as the Morocco players walked off dejected, the Iranian players did laps of glory and soaked in the momentous occasion.

As a part of Group B with Portugal and Spain, Morocco will rue their plethora of missed opportunities in a game they shouldn't have lost.

Iran were outclassed for the majority of the contest and their only shot on goal in the second half came courtesy of the own-goal.

A capacity crowd of 62,548 inside Saint Petersburg Stadium took in the contest and couldn't quite believe what they had witnessed in front of their eyes.

The win is only the second in the history of Iran at the World Cup and one they'll be remembering for a long time.

Uruguay players celebrate after Uruguay's defender Jose Gimenez scored the opening goal
Uruguay players celebrate after defender Jose Gemenen's opening goal.

Uruguay v Egypt

For 90 minutes the tussle between Uruguay and Egypt looked destined to end in a stalemate, then Jose Maria Gimenez headed home the sealer and handed the three points to Uruguay with the 1-0 win.

Without their superstar striker Mohamed Salah taking part in the contest, Egypt had their backs up against the wall but made the majority of the early running.

Despite constant surges down the wings and into the penalty box they weren't able to crack the Uruguay defences.

After absorbing and blocking every chance Egypt attempted, Uruguay then wrestled back control and should have taken the lead in the opening half but Luiz Suarez's close range shot slammed into the side netting.

As the second half got underway it became clear the momentum sat squarely behind Uruguay and their repeat entries into the attacking third began to take effect on Egypt.

Suarez was left to rue multiple missed opportunities as he saw two more close range shots miss their intended target.

They went agonisingly close when Edinson Cavani's free kick attempt slammed off the post and wasn't able to be helped into the open net as Egypt defenders claoumered to clear their area.

Gimenez rose to meet a Carlos Sanchez free kick to take the South Americans to three points alongside Russia, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament opener, and break the resistance of Egypt.

"They've just broken Egyptian hearts," one commentator proclaimed.

A late all-out attack came up empty for Egypt as the cameras panned to a solemn looking Salah sitting on the bench.

Gimenez secured Uruguay's first win in a World Cup opening game since 1970 when they went on to the semi-finals.

Egypt are yet to win a World Cup game and face the hosts Russia on Wednesday while Uruguay will expect to account for Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

- with AAP