Spain manager Fernando Hierro says he wouldn't trade any of his players for Cristiano Ronaldo even after the Portugal superstar's dramatic hat trick denied his side three points in a thrilling 3-3 draw in both teams' Group B opener on Friday.
"I am very proud of my players," Hierro told reporters after the match. "When you have a player in front of you like Cristiano, things like this can happen. I would not trade even one of them for Cristiano.
"When one has players like these, who collaborate and work hard, life is so much easier. One is grateful when one has folks who are so committed."
A rip-roaring clash in Sochi saw Ronaldo twice put Portugal in front, Diego Costa twice equalise for Spain, then Nacho Fernandez appear to win it for La Roja with a long-range strike, before Ronaldo completed his hat trick with a 20-yard free kick late on.
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Given all the turmoil during a week which saw Hierro step in after former national coach Julen Lopetegui was fired for agreeing to take over at Real Madrid after the tournament, the new boss told Spanish TV station Telecinco that he was happy the team had stepped up and showed their personality.
"The team showed they could lift themselves up, got ourselves ahead twice, and against somebody capable of doing what Cristiano did we must be happy [with the result]," Hierro said. "With everything that happened the team did not stop believing, fought hard, showed personality. That is very important with all that has happened. We have taken an important step forward, moved on from the adversities."
De Gea was badly at fault for Ronaldo's second goal, letting a 20-yard shot go straight through his body and into the net, after the Manchester United goalkeeper had also made a similar error in a warm-up friendly last week.
"[De Gea] is one of our own," Hierro said. "We leave nobody out hanging here."
Costa also spoke on Telecinco, saying he felt his team had deserved to take the three points given their domination of possession over the 90 minutes.
"I am very happy for the goals but what happened at the end was a pity," Costa said. "It was a very nice game, a good battle. We turned it around, and then let it escape. It leaves you with a strange feeling. We deserved to win, had the game under control, dominated possession."
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.
"I felt good during the whole game," he said. "There must be debate as things go better when there is competition for places. People criticise me whether things go well or badly. Today for sure they will be a bit happier. I accept the criticism, I must work hard and shut mouths."
Meanwhile, Spain playmaker Isco echoed Hierro's praise of the team's resiliency, adding they can take nothing for granted this summer.
"This team has shown that it has pride and heart. We have fought hard and we have come back from those two goals. This is the World Cup, no one gives you anything. I am proud of this team.
"This is football. A lot of things that happen aren't planned. But I am proud of us. We left everything on the pitch and we deserved more. Portugal also played well. We tried, it was a good match and we deserved better, but we are feeling good overall.
"De Gea is grown up, we all make mistakes. In five days he'll have another chance to vindicate himself again. No big deal."