Romania became the first team to exit EURO '96 following a 1-0 defeat by Bulgaria at St James' Park.
While Bulgaria had opened their Group B campaign with a 1-1 draw against Spain, Anghel Iordănescu's team had suffered a 1-0 reverse against France and therefore had no chance of finishing in the top two in the section following this loss. Their hopes were dashed after just three minutes in Newcastle, Hristo Stoichkov scoring his second goal in as many games.
Picking up a short pass from Krasimir Balakov, a hugely influential figure throughout, Stoichkov took advantage of a slip by Miodrag Belodedici to dart through a gap in the defence. Free to run at the Romanian defence, he made an extra metre of space with a cute dummy and stabbed the ball past Bogdan Stelea with his left foot.
Undone by a moment of magic, Romania refused to crumble. Their efforts were so nearly rewarded on the half-hour, Gheorghe Hagi rolling the ball to Dorinel Munteanu, whose long-range drive bounced down off the bar but was adjudged not to have crossed the line.
Even such misfortune failed to quell Romania's rally, though, with Daniel Prodan going particularly close to equalising with a diving header midway through the second half. Even in added time the same player again nearly levelled the scores, his shot shaving a post after a goalmouth scramble.
Should that effort have snuck inside the frame of the goal, it would have been harsh on Bulgaria, who had chances of their own after the break, Yordan Lechkov spurning the best of them having been put through by Nasko Sirakov's audacious back-heel.
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