Spain came back from the dead to book their place in the UEFA EURO 2000 quarter-finals as a memorable Group C encounter reached an incredible conclusion; Yugoslavia's consolation is that they, too, advance.
Needing to win, Spain were heading out as they entered added time 3-2 down despite being up against a side reduced to ten men following Slaviša Jokanović's 63rd-minute dismissal. They were thrown a lifeline when Abelardo went down in a packed box and Gaizka Mendieta fired in the resulting spot kick. Next came utter pandemonium as Alfonso Pérez latched on to a knockdown to hammer in his second of the game.
The Spanish contingent at the Jan Breydelstadion celebrated wildly, and when news came over the loudspeaker of Norway's goalless draw with Slovenia 200km away, in Arnhem, Yugoslavia joined them. The result left them level on points with Norway, with Vujadin Boškov's side advancing to a meeting with the Netherlands courtesy of a superior head-to-head record.
Yugoslavian joy was mixed with relief: they led three times against Spain before their late meltdown. Indeed, it was them that made much of the early running with Siniša Mihajlović apparently eager to make up for lost time on his return from suspension as he twice went close from distance. In-form Savo Milošević also headed just wide as Spain struggled to get a foothold.
José Antonio Camacho's men did come into it, with Mendieta twice foiled by goalkeeper Ivica Kralj, but on the half-hour mark they fell behind. Vladimir Jugović released Ljubinko Drulović, and the winger's cross was triumphantly headed in by Milošević – his fourth goal of the tournament. Spain were stung into action and within eight minutes they were level.
Raúl González carried the ball into the penalty area, and Alfonso took control at the heart of a hesitant Yugoslavia rearguard to fire in. Raúl then forced a superb save from Kralj and failed to get a boot on Mendieta's cross, before substitute Joseba Exteberria volleyed past the post as Spain ended a breathtaking first half firmly on the front foot.
The pace did not relent after the restart and on 50 minutes Yugoslavia regained the lead when half-time substitute Dejan Govedarica latched on to Drulović's pass to fire a sweet drive past Santiago Cañizares from the edge of the box. Spain replied immediately with another replacement, Pedro Munitis, curling a wonderful 18-metre shot past Krajl.
An incredible game took another turn when Jokanović received his marching orders after a second yellow card but, remarkably, Yugoslavia responded by going ahead for a third time with 15 minutes left. Slobodan Komljenović's opportunist strike looked to be decisive – Spain, though, had other ideas.