Spain's Raúl González had extra reason to celebrate after a busy weekend of EURO 2004™ action while Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni was a relieved man.
Real Madrid CF forward Raúl, who captained his side to a 2-0 victory against Greece on Saturday, had the honour of joining Fernando Hierro at the head of Spain's all-time top scorers' list with his 29th goal for his country. The 25-year-old scored with a precise shot after just seven minutes.
"It is a real privilege to play for the national team and also to draw level with Hierro as the all-time leading scorer," Raúl said. "But I am even happier about the way the team played because I think we passed a very tough test with flying colours." Spain's victory was completed by Juan Valerón's second-half strike.
'A new birth'
Russia coach Valeri Gazzaev was a winner in his first competitive match as his side beat the Republic of Ireland 4-2 in Moscow. "I am very happy about this victory," said Gazzaev. "We showed character, determination and skill today. I am grateful to the players for this result. Today is a new birth for our new national team, this is an extraordinary victory."
Del Piero free-kick
Trapattoni saw his Italy side beat Azerbaijan 2-0 on Saturday in what some had viewed as a 'make or break' match for the 63-year-old coach after the disappointment of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and a subsequent friendly defeat by Slovenia. After going ahead through a 34th minute own goal, a wonderful Alessandro Del Piero free-kick settled Italian nerves.
'We all suffered'
"We won thanks to the team's will, determination and character," said Trapattoni. "My team know how to give their best when times are tough. We all suffered and I suffered on the bench in the same way as the players on the field because of all the built-up tension from the past few days. In the dressing room before the game you could feel the nervousness - the players knew that they had to win, no matter what."
Scotland coach Berti Vogts had a contrasting experience in his first non-friendly. After five straight defeats, he saw his team held 2-2 by the Faroe Islands but it could have been much worse - the Scots were two goals down inside 13 minutes after a double strike from John Petersen.
"I was actually surprised at just how bad Scotland were in that first half - especially the back four," said Petersen. "We had only one player up front but still I was all on my own when I got both of my goals. I didn't expect them to be so easy to play against." Scotland captain Barry Ferguson, one of his side's goalscorers, said "time was running out" for Vogts. "We can't keep saying give Berti time," he added. "That's six games and we've yet to win. We need to start producing the results."
France had to come from behind in Cyprus to win 2-1, with French coach Jacques Santini admitting the defending champions still had room for improvement. "We made too many mistakes at defending," said Santini. "In parts of the game some guys looked like they were absent. We put ourselves in trouble. We put ourselves under pressure from the Cypriots. Everyone must feel involved when the team has to defend. It's a collective failure."
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