The World Cup may have started on Thursday with Russia bagging five against Saudi Arabia but it really kicked off on Friday night with Portugal v Spain providing an all-time classic that will be on best of compilations for decades to come.
It had drama written all over it before the whistle had blown and it wasn’t much soon after that the fireworks went off, and who else could be responsible, yep, him, Cristiano Ronaldo.
With less than five minutes on the clock Ronaldo burst into the Spanish box, drawing a tackle from Nacho, who left a leg out, sending the Portuguese to the floor and the ref pointing to the spot.
I’m not his biggest fan, but when people say that penalty wasn’t one annoys me. Ronaldo didn’t change his running direction, Nacho’s tackle was out of control and hanging a leg. Clear foul. pic.twitter.com/4CthSbwblf
— James Keane (@keanejp) June 16, 2018
What could Spanish keeper David De Gea do but try and play mind games against one of the most prolific strikers the game has ever seen. ‘Why do you have to fight so?’ I asked myself as I watched Spanish Dave stand in front of the spot, delaying Ronaldo from the kick.
For a United fan this was not pretty watching, two dearly loved players – one of the greatest of his generation and the best player for the last three seasons – were squaring off against each other.
The whistle blew, Ronaldo smashed the ball to De Gea’s left, and he dived the wrong way, in explosive celebration the forward darted for the corner flag with his trademark quarter-pirouette/kinda D-Generation X thing.
And then he started scratching his chin in a Jimmy Hill chinny reckon fashion.
SIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!! RONALDO!!!! #Cristiano blasts in the penalty that he won himself, and #Portugal take the crucial early 1-0 lead!!!! #CR7#PORESP #POR #ConquistaOSonho #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/lDi1rG4DaZ
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) June 15, 2018
Remember that from school? Probably not, Jimmy Hill is a pretty old school reference, gonna say at least 80 per cent of you are too young to get it, but these things transcend time and space.
Some people on Twitter thought Ronaldo’s chin stroking celebration was merely taking the Miguel out of his counterpart’s facial hair and attempt at spot mind games.
Ronaldo taking the piss out of De Gea's beard is easily the highlight of the World Cup and will not be beaten
— Ciaran Canavan (@canavan_ciaran) June 15, 2018
Well, after 2 goals… it looks like Ronaldo really wants to shave off de Gea's beard~ ? pic.twitter.com/nuUK58eTKS
— A R I A (@aria_dsa) June 15, 2018
absolute par on De Gea's shit beard from Ronaldo with his celebration there
— nath (@nath___________) June 15, 2018
And others saw the chin thing as a slight – or shade as some will continue to call it – in the direction at another of Ronaldo’s adversaries.
Ronaldo’s chin celebration is basically saying “Messi goat?…not by the hairs on my chinny, chin, chin”
— Stretford Post (@StretfordPost) June 16, 2018
This is a different way of looking at it entirely.
Live look at Ronaldo's celebration pic.twitter.com/19f7XvRMwd
— Yung CheezeWiz (@mehoooligan) June 15, 2018
Coming back to the GOAT thing, you can argue as much as you like between yourselves about who deserves that accolade, but last night Ronaldo added a tonne of cement to his argument scoring all three of Portugal’s goals.
After conceding the penalty, Spain clawed back with a Diego Costa goal. Then just before half-time Ronaldo hit a rather pedestrian shot from the outside of the box straight at De Gea who spilled it into the net. 2-1 Portugal.
Costa scored a second to level things on the 55th minute and shortly after Nacho made amends for his penalty error with a low, whipped drive from about 25 yards into the far corner to give Spain a 3-2 lead.
In added time Portugal threw everything forward and were awarded a free kick. It was Beckham vs Greece in 2001, last chance saloon stuff. What else could possibly happen?
GOAAAAALLLLL!!! AMAZING FREE KICK BY CRISTIANO RONALDO!!! WOW! pic.twitter.com/0YvM2KNAdc
— FIFA World Cup (@WorIdCupUpdates) June 15, 2018
It’s no wonder the guy makes people of all ages react like the two mascots who appeared at the start of the game last night.
And to all the people that bemoan football every four years, that’s why the World Cup is the best thing ever.
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Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.