Bernardo Silva was not surprised by Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick performance against Spain as he lauded the evergreen Portugal superstar following Friday’s World Cup thriller in Sochi.
Ronaldo was the star of the show in Portugal’s memorable 3-3 Group B draw against neighbours Spain at Fisht Stadium, where the five-time Ballon d’Or winner salvaged a point with a stunning last-gasp free-kick.
The 33-year-old became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in World Cup history, having converted a fourth-minute penalty before restoring his team’s lead thanks to David de Gea’s howler before the interval.
Asked about Ronaldo’s exploits, Portugal team-mate and Manchester City midfielder Silva told reporters: “I think he is used to it, this kind of night. Once again he was fantastic. He helped us get this point.
“He is used to these kinds of nights with Portugal, Real Madrid and Manchester United a few years ago.
“It’s been amazing over the last 10 years or so. It’s special to have a player like him in our team. We have to enjoy him and give him the conditions to score more goals.”
Ronaldo also ended a drought as he ensured Spain’s tumultuous week – which saw Julen Lopetegui sensationally sacked two days before the showdown in Sochi having agreed a deal with Real Madrid – finished without victory.
The Portugal captain curled a set-piece past a helpless De Gea at the death to end his run of 44 free-kick attempts without a goal at major international tournaments.
“He is getting better and better [with age],” Silva – who was happy with the result – said. “Everyone was expecting him to get older and stop playing as well as he used to but he is getting better.
“I hope he can maintain this form for the next games in Russia.”
Silva added: “It’s not difficult to play with Cristiano. It’s easy. You just give him the ball and he makes things happen. We enjoy having him on our team.”
It was a pulsating clash in Krasnodar Krai, where Portugal led 2-1 at half-time via a pair of Ronaldo goals either side of Diego Costa’s solo effort.
Quick-fire strikes from Costa and Nacho Fernandez rattled Portugal and put Spain ahead early in the second half but Ronaldo was always destined to have the final say on a warm night in Sochi.
“It was a fantastic game. We started really well. Especially the first half for us was really good. We didn’t start good in the second,” Silva said.
“But in the end Ronaldo was in form and he decided everything for us. He scored three goals. When he plays like this, anything is possible.”
“We’re not favourites but we can try to do something because we have a good team. But I would say Germany, Brazil, France and Spain are the favourites,” the 23-year-old Silva added.