After De Gea's blunder caused pity and scorn around the world and later a hug from Hierro, a former Spain mainstay as a player, and after they all went to half-time, Spain's offence really got pretty, even off a free kick.
Spain, who lost their manager Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament, were seemingly heading towards victory after coming from behind twice to lead 3-2 with just minutes remaining.
That said, a number of fans watching the action at home are convinced Ronaldo was in fact taking a shot at De Gea.
Portugal to take on Spain. "Games go one way and you have to face it". Fernando Hierro was subsequently named as his replacement and it will be interesting to see how it affects the team.
Ronaldo was a youngster on the 2006 squad that advanced to the semifinals, but at this point that is a distant memory and he was a much bigger influence on the last two Portugal teams that flopped.
Cristiano Ronaldo seems determined to make the 2018 FIFA World Cup his own.
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Ronaldo made a nice stepover move to get past Fernandez, his Real Madrid teammate, and was fouled at the edge of the area.
Some needled Spain goalkeeper David de Gea, with many comparing him to Liverpool keeper Loris Karius, who made two goal-allowing blunders against Real Madrid in the recent Champions League final. Soon the game, already replete with cultural, personal and club rivalries, threatened to escalate into a shootout at odds with the methodical approach usually deployed by the Iberian sides, who were meeting each other for the 35th time, but the first since 2012. Portugal attacked in transition with Ronaldo and Gonçalo Guedes.
Spain dominated for large periods - Diego Costa twice equalised and Nacho putting them ahead with a superb strike - but Portugal rallied in the final moments for Ronaldo to level. "We are a family, we are a team, and we stick together".
Ronaldo's records might stack up like his goals, but he was determined to focus on the team ethos of the reigning European champions.
"We had more chances, they had three shots on goal, and scored three goals", Pique said after the match.
But Spain regrouped at the interval and drew level 10 minutes into the second half with a textbook set-piece counter, Sergio Busquets heading a free-kick back across goal for Costa to turn it in.
Busquets and Costa combined for Spain's equalizer in the 55th.