Matchday 9 – Tuesday, 18th June 1996 – Group B
Hello and welcome to a midweek special Euro ’96 edition. The action this afternoon comes from Group B.
Here’s how the table looks before today’s matches:
Initially, you may think Bulgaria and France are almost there, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. They meet each other at St. James’ Park. But with Spain taking on Romania at Elland Road, it’s actually the Spanish who have a clearer strategy. If they win they’re through. Even a draw in Newcastle won’t stop them winning the group.
If Spain win and the other two draw, then all three sides finish on five points. They will then be separated by the head-to-head, but that’s even for all of them. Then we look at goal difference, and if Spain win by one goal then they all have identical goal difference. The next way to separate them is to look at goals scored.
If Spain won 1-0 and the other match was goalless, then Spain would top the group. France and Bulgaria would then only be separated by the strange, unfathomable world of coefficients. Let’s hope it never comes down to that.
Of course, if Spain do anything other than win, then even if there’s a loser in Newcastle, both France and Bulgaria will go through.
Here’s the team news
FRA V BULG
The French made two changes from the game against Spain. Thuram came in for Angloma at right-back, and Dugarry was back up front having scored the only goal of the game in the first match against Romania. Bulgaria also made two changes. Hubchev was back after missing the Romanian game through suspension, and Kremenliev got his first outing in the competition.
SPA V ROM
Spain made four changes from the game against France. Otero, Caminero, Luis Enrique and Alfonso were out. In came Pizzi, Kiko, Nadal and Manjarin. Pizzi had been sent off against Romania but was back for this one. Alfonso and Caminero had scored in the competition for the Spaniards but they were on yellow cards. A brave move to leave them out given the stakes were so high.
The Romanian team news is they made four changes for a game which was rather academic for them. Belodedici, Lupescu, Munteanu and Lacatus made way for Dobos, Stinga, Galca and Adrian Illie
So to the action
CHANCE: FRA v BUL
Bulgaria really should’ve scored there. Good work on the right by Letchkov saw him get the better of Desailly, and his cross to the far post really should’ve been converted by Penev. But stretching, his chance went wide with Lama beaten. Still 0-0
GOAL!!: SPA v ROM (11 mins)
It’s gone to Spain. What a start. Amavisca surged forward but his shot hit Pizzi. It rebounded to where Manjarin was able to pass it into the net beyond the reach of Prunea. It was the start they dreamed of. Put’s the pressure on at St. James’ Park. Spa 1-0 Rom
CHANCE: FRA v BUL
20 minutes in and the French had a free-kick just outside the area. Djorkaeff took it, ahead of Zidane. He placed his shot right into the corner, but Bulgarian captain Mikhailov got down to push it wide for a corner
GOAL!!: FRA v BUL (21 mins)
The resulting corner was headed in by Blanc for the opening goal. It was a strong header, but neither the ‘keeper nor the man on the post tried to stop it. That’s France and Spain as the top two at the moment. Fra 1 -0 Bul
GOAL!!: SPA v ROM (29 mins)
Spain were sitting comfortably but that’s all changed at Elland Road. A lovely passing move by Romania saw Raducioiu sent clear. He slipped the ball passed Zubizarreta for their first goal of this tournament. Spain would now have to score again. Suddenly Bulgaria, despite losing at St. James’ Park, were back in the top two. Spa 1-1 Rom
CHANCE: FRA v BUL
The French almost went further ahead when Dugarry dispossessed Hubchev. But thankfully for the Bulgarians, their ‘keeper saved them again as the French striker tried to chip him. You had that Davor Suker to blame for the sudden outbreak in chipping. Still 1-0 to the French.
HALF TIME: France 1-0 Bulgaria, Spain 1-1 Romania
As things stood France would top the group with seven points, Bulgaria had four points and Spain three points. A goal for Spain and it would all change again. If Bulgaria could grab two to lead their match, then it would be the French who were sweating. It really is a cliché, but the next goal in either game really could be crucial.
GOAL!!: FRA v BUL (63 mins)
Midway through the half, France had a free-kick on the left. Djorkaeff curled it in right-footed to the near post. Blanc got up but couldn’t connect. Heartbreak for the Bulgarians as it came off Penev, who was challenging Blanc, and into the net. Mikhailov was helpless to stop it going in. Fra 2-0 Bul
Obviously that goal didn’t change anything as regards the group placings, but it changed everything for Bulgaria. At 0-1 down they knew if Spain scored then they’d only need one. But a Spanish goal now would mean they’d have to find two.
GOAL!!: FRA v BUL (69 mins)
Six minutes later Bulgaria reduced the arrears. They had a free-kick just outside the area and Stoichkov curled it into the top left-hand corner of the net. It was his third goal of the tournament and kept his team in it. Fra 2-1 Bul
The goal didn’t change anything as such, although it gave Bulgaria a chance of winning the match which would guarantee progress to the knockout stages.
CHANCE: SPA v ROM
It was all Spain now. Manjarin forced a good save from Prunea. Then Amavisca twisted and turned in the area to find room for the shot. He should’ve done better but Prunea smothered the shot. Spa 1-1 Rom
CHANCE: SPA v ROM
Another chance for Spain. Kiko played Amor in and as he drew the keeper, he squared it to Hierro but his shot was blocked. It was desperate stuff.
GOAL!!: SPA v ROM (84 mins)
Nadal headed the ball out wide to the left to Sergi. He lofted a hopeful ball into the area. It was nodded back at the far post by Alfonso and there was Amor to bundle the ball over the line. There were just over five minutes to go and the Spaniards were back in front. If they could hold on, Spain were through. Now, attention turned to see if Bulgaria could get an equaliser at St. James’ Park.
Spa 2-1 Rom
GOAL!!: FRA v BUL (90 mins)
There’s been a goal at St. James’ Park, who’s it gone to? Had the Bulgarians got back level or were the French now out of sight?
It was the French who scored. With the Bulgarians looking tired and Loko beat the offside trap. He rounded the ‘keeper and scored. France had confirmed their win, and the Bulgarians were heading home. Fra 3-1 Bul
And that was it. The whole group had turned on its head in the last six minutes of both matches. From being on the verge of going out, Spain had won and it was Bulgaria who would take no further part in the tournament.
France won the group and would meet the runners-up in England’s group. Spain would play the winner of that group.
GROUP B, St. James’ Park, Newcastle, 26,976
FRANCE (1) 3 (Blanc 21, Penev og 63, Loko 90)
BULGARIA (0) 1 (Stoichkov 69)
FRANCE: Lama; Thuram, Blanc, Desailly, Lizarazu; Guerin, Zidane (Pedros), Deschamps, Karembeu; Dugarry (Loko), Djorkaeff
BULGARIA: Mikhailov; Kremenliev, Hubchev, Yankov (Borimirov), Tsvetanov, Ivanov; Balakov (Donkov), Yordanov, Lechkov; Stoichkov, Penev
GROUP B, Elland Road, Leeds, 32,719
ROMANIA (1) 1 (Raducioiu 29)
SPAIN (1) 2 (Manjarin 11, Amor 84)
ROMANIA: Prunea; Petrescu, Popescu, Dobos, Prodan (Lupescu), Selymes; Galca, Stinga, Hagi; Raducioiu (Vladoiu), Illie (Munteanu)
SPAIN: Zubizarreta; Lopez, Sergi, Abelardo, Alkorta, Otero (Kiko); Caminero, Amavisca, Hierro, Luis Enrique (Manjarin); Alfonso (Julio Salinas)
Join us tomorrow for the evening matches of Matchday 9.
England v Netherlands, Scotland v Switzerland