Spain had a calamitous afternoon in Rotterdam as they lost their opening UEFA EURO 2000 game to a tireless Norway side.
Steffen Iversen's 66th-minute header was enough to earn Nils Johan Semb's side the points in a disjointed encounter. The goal was simple in its execution, with the Tottenham Hotspur FC man nodding into an empty net from 12 metres after he latched onto Thomas Myhre's long clearance. Iversen's task was made easier by goalkeeper Francisco Molina, who came off his line but never reached the ball.
Spain dominated possession but were unable to carve out much in the way of clear-cut chances, especially during the first half. With Raúl González and Ismael Urzaiz subdued by André Bergdølmo and Henning Berg, much of Spain's threat came from Joseba Etxeberria on the right. The Athletic Club winger came close to scoring in the ninth minute when his shot from the edge of the penalty area went narrowly over.
Spain continued to carry the game to Norway. Fran capitalised on Vegard Heggem's wayward clearance on the left wing, but his inswinging cross was glanced away from the onrushing Urzaiz by Bergdølmo. Raúl then turned two defenders, but his volley from 20 metres was deflected wide. Norway's first purposeful attack came on 20 minutes and almost provided the opening goal as Bergdølmo's cross was headed goalwards by Ole Gunnar Solskjær, only for the ball to hit the crossbar before Spain cleared.
Belief grew for Semb's side, and Molina needed to be alert to a cross when Eirik Bakke lost his marker. Yet Spain remained the more potent threat, with Urzaiz going close with a header on the half-hour and Raúl working goalkeeper Thomas Myhre with a low shot that was heading towards the bottom corner. Then, midway through the second half, disaster struck for the favourites as Iversen roused the crowd from their torpor.
Spain's best chance to equalise came when substitutes Alfonso Pérez and Gaizka Mendieta combined in the 75th minute, but Myhre denied the latter when he parried his shot from five metres out behind for a corner. Other half-chances came from Míchel Salgado's 20-metre volley and a blocked indirect free-kick inside the penalty area after Myhre was penalised for not releasing the ball quickly enough. On the whole, though, Norway defended deeply and held on without any major scares for a worthy Group C win.