As he’s done throughout his career, Cristiano Ronaldo once again showed why he’s the man for the big occasion after his hat-trick helped Portugal beat Switzerland to qualify for the Inaugural UEFA Nations League final.
His feat last night is just another proof of how Cristiano Ronaldo comes up in clutch moments to save his team. In honour of his hat-trick last night, we’ve come up with times that Ronaldo has delivered Portugal from critical situations.
Portugal vs Sweden (World Cup Playoff 2013): Portugal went into the game having secured a 1-0 first leg victory over the Swedes in Lisbon. Nevertheless, there were still doubts over the Portuguese team going into the match. Ronaldo appeared to have put all doubts to rest after he opened the scoring in the opening minutes of the second half. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic threatened a comeback after his two quickfire goals put Sweden ahead on that night. However, it was to be Ronaldo’s night as he scored two more goals that night to seal his hat-trick and lead Portugal to the World Cup.
Portugal vs Hungary (Euro 2016): Portugal won the Euros in 2016 but they could have gone out in the group stage if not for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Selecao had managed disappointing draws against Iceland and Austria in their opening two games. They needed to win or get a draw at least against Hungary to have any chance of qualification. However, the Hungarians didn’t read the script as a Zoltan Gera half-volley put them in front. But Ronaldo set up Nani to fire in an equaliser before the break. Two deflected Balazs Dzsudzsak strikes twice restored Hungary’s lead early in the second half, but a Ronaldo flick and header levelled on each occasion.
Portugal vs Spain (World Cup 2018): The World Cup needed a spark following boring opening matches and fans got the excitement they wanted when Portugal and Spain clashed in Sochi. The match had everything from start to the end with Ronaldo turning out to be Portugal’s saviour once again.
He kicked off with an early penalty, deceiving Nacho inside the box to win it and then stroking the ball home from the spot. Fortunately for *La Roja*, Diego Costa was also at his bristling best, getting the better of the Portugal defence to level the scores. Isco then thumped a rasping drive against the bar. Yet while Spain dominated possession they were vulnerable on the counter, and it was on the break that Ronaldo put his side back in front, firing in a drive that David de Gea was unable to hold.
Costa scored his second equaliser of the night just after the restart before Nacho atoned for his penalty-box trip on Ronaldo by powering a superb half-volley in off the post, his first goal for Spain. As the clock ticked down, however, Gerard Pique brought down CR7 just outside the box, with the Portugal star dusting himself down to complete the scoring with a sublime free-kick.
Portugal vs Wales (Euro 2016): Portugal met a Welsh side who are hoping to make history in the Semi-finals of the Euro 2016. Coleman’s side entered the biggest game in Welsh football history – at their first major tournament since 1958 – carried by a wave of emotion and optimism after their 3-1 win against Belgium in the quarter-final. The big threat was always going to be Cristiano Ronaldo – and so it proved as his magnificent header broke the deadlock after 50 minutes.
Three minutes later, his shot was diverted past Wayne Hennessy in the Wales goal by former Manchester United team-mate Nani. Wales sorely missed the energy and authority of suspended midfielder Aaron Ramsey – and with Ronaldo overshadowing Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale in this game’s crucial battle, a journey that has made a country proud finally reached its conclusion.
Portugal vs Switzerland (UEFA Nations League): The Juventus star was making his debut for Portugal in the competition having missed the group stages. However, he didn’t have to wait for long before making his mark as he put Portugal ahead with a well-taken free-kick. Switzerland drew level in the second half through a Rodriguez penalty. The game looked to be heading towards extra-time until Ronaldo found a yard of space in the penalty area and fired low and hard just inside the post.
That would have been enough to send Portugal through to the final of this competition, but their greatest ever player was not done yet. As the Swiss, who had been the better team for much of the match, streamed forward in desperation, the Juventus superstar added the third on the break. Set free by Bernardo Silva, he left the Switzerland defence panicked as he cut inside and crashed the ball home for his hat-trick.