Cristiano Ronaldo could not have enjoyed a better start to his 2018 World Cup campaign.
Scoring a dramatic hat-trick for Portugal against his country’s Iberian rivals Spain in a thrilling 3-3 draw was the stuff of dreams.
But what happened in Sochi last Friday night wasn’t fantasy; it really did happen. Yep, it’s Cristiano’s world and the rest of us are just living in it.
Rather surprisingly, Ronaldo chose to praise the efforts of his teammates after his magnificent individual performance at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, rather than soak up the limelight himself.
But without the 33-year-old, it’s safe to assume Portugal would have lost this game. He was the difference.
Ronaldo, who scored 44 goals in 44 games for Real Madrid this season and won the Champions League in the process, is now the favourite to win the World Cup Golden Boot following his hat-trick.
Portugal play Morocco and Iran in their next two games and you wouldn’t bet against him filling his boots in those matches.
What Souness recently said about Ronaldo now looks foolish
Once again, Ronaldo has proven that you should never, ever write him off. He will always have the last laugh. But that’s precisely what Graeme Souness did shortly before this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
The 65-year-old, who was providing analysis on Irish channel TV3 last month, said: “There’s obvious signs in Ronaldo that the days of him being such a match-winner are fading away.”
One Man Utd fan, who clearly still idolises the former Old Trafford hero, has created a video of Souness making that comment followed by Ronaldo hammering in his peach of his free-kick against La Roja.
Ronaldo has many more big performances left in the tank
This was one of the standout individual performances of Ronaldo’s illustrious career - perhaps even *the* standout individual performance of his career - so Souness’s claim looks rather foolish now.
It’s patently clear that Ronaldo has many more match-winning performances left in him, even though he turns 34 midway through next season.
Ronaldo recently boasted that he has the biological age of a 23-year-old and says that he plans to continue playing elite-level football until he’s 41.
On the evidence of his latest showing, there’s no reason why he can’t make that a reality.