Spain got their UEFA EURO 2000 campaign back on track with a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Slovenia side in Amsterdam.
Spanish nerves, frayed by obstinate Norway during their Group C opener, were quickly calmed by Raúl González's fourth-minute goal. They might have resurfaced after Zlatko Zahovič's equaliser before the hour, but within 60 seconds they were back in front. Gaizka Mendieta weaved his way past four defenders before threading the ball for Joseba Etxeberria to beat Mladen Dabanovič at his near post.
Spain will confirm a quarter-final place with victory over Yugoslavia in their final group game, and if that happens Slovenia could join them by beating Norway. They will need to start better than they did in Amsterdam. The game was still in its infancy when Mendieta, Agustín Aranzabal and Josep Guardiola combined to release Míchel Salgado. The full-back's shot was deflected, but the ball ran kindly for Raúl to fire into the top corner.
Spain could have doubled their advantage on 13 minute when Juan Carlos Valerón found Alfonso Pérez, but his low shot went narrowly wide. Alfonso then turned provider as his neat flick released Valerón on the right. He in turn found Mendieta, though the defence crowded out the Valencia CF midfielder as he shaped to shoot. Spain were dominant, and looked poised to extend their advantage, but slowly Slovenia gained a foothold.
Aleš Čeh's pass was missed by Sašo Udovič close to the penalty spot, but the ball ran to the unmarked Mladen Rudonja whose hesitancy allowed two defenders to block his shot. Rudonja fired over another opportunity following more good work from Čeh and, after Raúl fired narrowly wide at the other end, the striker finally forced Santiago Cañizares into action before the interval.
Slovenia's second shot on target brought their equaliser on 59 minutes as Zahovič turned in Rudonja's left-wing cross from ten metres despite colliding with team-mate Milan Osterc, a half-time substitute. Mendieta responded with a moment of magic, though, and Spain did not let the lead slip a second time.
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