Hierro wouldn't swap 'exceptional' Ronaldo for any of Spain squad

Hierro wouldn't swap 'exceptional' Ronaldo for any of Spain squad

Hierro wouldn't swap 'exceptional' Ronaldo for any of Spain squad

Ronaldo found the back of the net for the second time just before the half, as Spanish goalkeeper David da Gea was unable to control a low line drive off the foot of the 33-year old superstar. Sporting director Fernando Hierro, a former player, was picked as Lopetegui's replacement and was on the bench despite no significant previous coaching experience.

"The goals are important but the truth is that I felt good throughout the game".

"We played against a favourite team that wants to win the World Cup and we were winning twice during the game".

Fans on Twitter wondered what Ronaldo's actions meant but many were convinced it was a dig aimed at the bearded Red Devils shot-stopper after his mind games.

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There had been so many questions raised in the build-up to this game about Spain's mental state but this gutsy performance, in which they showed lovely glimpses of their real ability, has provided a comprehensive answer, despite Ronaldo's late blow.

First Diego Costa scored a poacher's goal off a set piece, before Nacho struck a bouncing ball perfectly for an outside-spinning volley that hit the post before rolling in. He now has the joint-second highest number of worldwide goals (84) antis the first player in World Cup history to score a treble against Spain.

"I've already said it and the decision is quite certain, you never know 100 percent what will happen but when I say something I usually follow through with it", he insisted. "I'm glad he's Portuguese".

Portugal loudly complained Costa had fouled Pepe, and replays showed there was contact by the Spaniard's arm with Pepe's body. After Isco complained, Rocchi pointed to his watch, which receives goal confirmations.

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Costa's double strike looks to have ended for now a debate over whether he could play as a No. 9 for Spain, and the Brazil-born Atletico Madrid man said he was happy to shut up some of his critics. Midfielders David Silva and Andres Iniesta began showing off some of the ball cycling and verve that had made this the most decorated worldwide side in history.

Three minutes later, Fernandez redeemed himself for the penalty on Ronaldo with a streaking shot after a ball cleared by the defense got deflected toward him.

Ronaldo's records might stack up like his goals, but he was determined to focus on the team ethos of the reigning European champions. But beyond the drama of a see-saw game - one of the best group openers we've seen in a long time - and the fact that they are two points off the top, there are positive takeaways for both teams. He also expressed his hopes that Ronaldo would still be around and scoring goals in Qatar in four years' time.

Spain struggled to contain Portugal's counterattacks, but it showed it remained a solid team despite Lopetegui's absence.

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