SOCHI Russia (Xinhua) --
Spain coach Fernand Hierro was left
frustrated by the late Cristiano Ronaldo goal which denied his side
a win against Portugal on Friday night, but on the whole it was a
positive evening for him in his first game in charge.
Bearing in mind the events of the three days prior to kickoff, it
was a positive result and means the Spanish still have an excellent
chance of topping their group.
Hierro had been in his post for just over 48 hours when the
whistle blew in the Fisht Stadium, stepping in as an emergency
replacement after the Spanish Football Federation decided to sack
Julen Lopetegui and he said in his pre-game press conference that he
wasn’t going to make changes to what has worked so well for Spain
over the past 10 years.
Indeed Hierro seemed to favor the more slightly direct approach
Lopetegui had learned over the past two years, ending the debate
over who is Spain’s first choice striker by starting with Diego
Costa in attack.
Costa responded with two goals and style.
The Spanish moved the ball around fluidly in midfield, it was
noticeable that Costa’s first goal was a good ‘old fashioned’ center
forward’s strike, battling for a high ball with the defender before
bringing it down and beating Rui Patricio with a low shot.
His second goal was also the result of more direct play with
Busquets nodding David Silva’s free kick across goal for him to
score from close range, while the third Spanish goal was a
long-range volley from Nacho Fernandez.
So, the Spanish played a passing game, but when they were direct,
they scored their goals; a sign that when they need to mix things up
a bit they can do so.
Hierro will also be delighted with the spirit his side showed,
twice coming back from behind, ending rumors of discontent and
division following Lopetegui’s sacking.
The now Real Madrid boss may well have had the support of the
squad, many of whom are said to have argued for him to be allowed to
continue, but on the pitch they showed the team and their country
are more important than any individual.
No wonder Hierro said after the game that he wouldn’t change
anyone for Portugal’s hat-trick hero, Ronaldo. And words such as
those will only strengthen his position with his squad.
"I am proud of them, there is commitment.
"It’s great to have players like this, who all know what they
want," he commented to the press.
The only negative on the night was another error from goalkeeper
David de Gea, who allowed Ronaldo’s tame long range shot to squirm
past him for Portugal’s second goal of the game.
De Gea has been outstanding for Manchester United, but it was his
second bad error in three games this summer (the other was against
Switzerland on June 3) and there are some calls for him to be
De Gea was philosophical about his mistake after the game,
telling the press there was nothing that could be done to change the
past and that now he has to prepare to face Iran.
Hierro will certainly stick with De Gea for the moment:
"He is one of us and you don’t leave your companions behind," he
said after the game.
The coach known two mistakes don’t make you a bad keeper and
dropping De Gea would open up a debate which for the moment is best
avoided, but overall he can be pleased with his first game as Spain