Hat-trick heroes prove the difference-makers
Four hat-tricks scored in World Cup qualifying in less than 24 hours
Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Meunier & Chris Wood grab trebles
Lukaku and Meunier both score three for Belgium against Gibraltar
Hat-tricks are usually a rare occurrence in football. However, in under 24 hours of 2018 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, four different players bagged trebles, with two even coming in the same game.
FIFA.com takes a look at the the hat-tricks, and the difference-making quartet who scored them, ranked by how long it took them to score their three goals.
Thomas Meunier (for Belgium, against Gibraltar)
* Minute of each goal: 18', 60', 67' * Time taken to score hat-trick: 49 minutes * Score after each goal: 2-0, 7-0, 8-0 * Final score: 9-0 * 2018 WCQ total goals: 4
While Meunier is a marauding right-back, who earlier in his career played further forward, his hat-trick was unprecedented - at least at international level. Meunier only scored his first goal for Belgium in World Cup qualifying back in November against Estonia.
Goal one (18'): A cut-back from the Belgian right saw Meunier slot home via a deflection. Goal two (60'): A lofted Eden Hazard pass from the Belgian left-hand side was volleyed home by the full-back. Goal three (67'): Kevin De Bruyne reached the byline on the left and dinked a cross to the back post, which Meunier slammed home.
Cristiano Ronaldo (for Portugal, against Faroe Islands)
* Minute of each goal: 3', 29', 64' * Time taken to score hat-trick: 61 minutes * Score after each goal: 1-0, 2-0, 4-1 * Final score: 5-1 * 2018 WCQ total goals: 14
Nobody has scored more than Cristiano Ronaldo's 14 goals in the European zone for World Cup qualifying, this after he equalled Predrag Mijatovic's 1998 qualifying record with his hat-trick against the Faroe Islands. This is his second hat-trick in 2018 World Cup qualifying, he scored four against Andorra in October.
Goal one (3'): An acrobatic volley from a Bernardo Silva right-wing cross. Goal two (29'): Sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot after Joao Mario was fouled in the area. Goal three (64'): Took his time in the area, with a deft dummy to fool the keeper, before slotting home.
Romelu Lukaku (for Belgium, against Gibraltar)
* Minute of each goal: 21', 38', 84' * Time taken to score hat-trick: 63 minutes * Score after each goal: 3-0, 5-0, 9-0 * Final score: 9-0 * 2018 WCQ total goals: 9
Lukaku became the second Belgian to score a 2018 World Cup qualifying hat-trick, with Christian Benteke grabbing the fastest ever qualifying treble - also against Gibraltar - back in October. Lukaku has hit a brace twice, but finally got a hat-trick against the World Cup qualifying novices.
Goal one (21'): Cross from the right by Meunier saw Lukaku head home with ease. Goal two (38'): Great skill by Meunier created space and his cross was turned in by the No9. Goal three (84'): A straightforward spot-kick, hard and low to the goalkeeper's right.
Chris Wood (for New Zealand, against Solomon Islands)
* Minute of each goal: 18', 36', 90+3' * Time taken to score hat-trick: 75 minutes Score after each goal: Final score: 6-1 * 2018 WCQ total goals: 8
Wood added to his impressive World Cup qualifying tally against the Solomons with a well-taken treble, becoming the first New Zealander to score a hat-trick in their ten games on the road to Russia so far, and the first in all competitions since he managed the feat in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup - against the same opposition.
Goal one (18'): Followed up on a deflected Ryan Thomas effort by finishing with his left foot. Goal two (36'): A cool chip over the Solomon goalkeeper after a defensive error. Goal three (90+3'): A low free-kick which fizzed past Phillip Mango in the Solomons goal.