Sergio Ramos Spain Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
Spain captain Sergio Ramos is disappointed as Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his second goal for PortugalDean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Nobody loves the grand stage, the spotlight, being THE headline more than Cristiano Ronaldo, which is why it almost felt cruel when all that was taken away from him – at least the positive one – when injury struck in the final of Euro 2016.

Ronaldo clearly decided his next match on the major international tournament stage would be all about him scoring goals and getting his team off to a great start, and just to make it better, against the country he plays his club football in.

When Cristiano Ronaldo is in form, there are very few that can stay with him, and nobody knows that better than his Real Madrid teammates. However, even the likes of Sergio Ramos, Nacho and Isco could do little, even if the great man was given a generous helping hand by David de Gea.

What is it about De Gea and the international stage?

In Manchester United colours, he looks impregnable, making jaw-dropping saves that bend the law of physics. In Spain colours, however, he looks more human, fallible, capable of the craziest of clangers.

Unfortunately for the Spain goalkeeper, the latest clanger came in the World Cup, against the neighbours Portugal, with Ronaldo the beneficiary.

It is possible that it was because it was a Ronaldo shot that De Gea made such a big howler. Such is the presence the Real Madrid legend has, that he can make even the best of goalkeepers nervous. And having already fired a penalty past him, maybe the shot, which was hit directly at De Gea, albeit low down, had the goalkeeper nervous, and when nerves strike you, it spells trouble.

Diego Costa Spain Portugal
Diego Costa scores the equaliser for a second time for Spain against PortugalMichael Steele/Getty Images

With Ronaldo having the time of his life in Sochi, Spain needed inspiration from their own main man, and who better than Diego Costa, the Tasmanian devil that riles up the opposition, before putting them to sleep with his wonderful goal-scoring ability.

The first was all about strength and finesse, the perfect combination, while the second was about being at the right place at the right time to tap the ball home.

And with Nacho scoring a screamer, it looked like Spain, as a team, would steal Ronaldo's thunder, his headlines, his spotlight.

Not today, said the goalscoring machine, not today.

With just a few minutes remaining, Ronaldo had one free-kick, from about 25 yards, to save Portugal a point and get his name firmly back in the headlines. A few deep breaths later, he ran up, struck the ball absolutely perfectly, with that ball zoning into the back of the net like a guided missile.

The night was, after all, to be Ronaldo's, and rightly too. If you score a hat-trick against one of the best teams in the world at a World Cup, you deserve every single plaudit that comes you way.

Ronaldo has put out an early marker. He is here to take Portugal deep and to win the Golden Ball. How will the rest of the contenders, including Lionel Messi and Neymar answer?