Bulgaria and Spain both ended with ten men as they drew 1-1 in the opening Group B fixture of the finals.
The predatory Hristo Stoichkov, who had earlier been adjudged offside before finishing exquisitely on the volley, looked to have laid the platform for an impressive Bulgaria victory when he converted a penalty just before the hour.
That was as good as it got for Dimitar Penev's team, though, with Petar Hubchev's 72nd-minute dismissal leaving them with an uphill struggle to hold on to their lead. The equaliser duly arrived from Alfonso Pérez soon after, though Juan Antonio Pizzi was then also shown a red card to leave both sides a man down for the final quarter of an hour.
Javier Clemente's charges should have been in front in the first half when a deflection off Yordan Lechkov was volleyed over the bar by the unmarked Julen Guerrero. It was a welcome reprieve for Bulgaria, whose talisman, Stoichkov, then came to the fore. Bristling and strutting as always, the former FC Barcelona man – who would return to the Liga powerhouses after the tournament – looked his side's biggest threat throughout.
He made no mistake from the spot after Emil Kostadinov had been felled by Sergi Barjuán, but it was not enough. Hubchev's departure for a foul on José Luis Caminero was almost immediately followed by Spain scoring, Fernando Hierro's free-kick blocked but sent back in and deflected past Borislav Mihaylov with Pérez's first touch since coming on. Pizzi was sent off to even up the numbers in an untidy finish to the match.