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Spain start with a point against Bulgaria in EURO '96 Group B

Spain 1-1 Bulgaria
Both sides had a man dismissed soon after scoring.

Hristo Stoitchkov of Bulgaria rejoices after scoring against Spain
Hristo Stoitchkov of Bulgaria rejoices after scoring against Spain ©AFP

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.

EURO '96: All you need to know

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.

The best goals of EURO '96

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 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.

EURO '96: Team of the Tournament


Players shake hands ahead of kick-off at Elland Road
Players shake hands ahead of kick-off at Elland RoadIcon Sport via Getty Images

Spain: Zubizarreta (c); Sergi, Abelardo, Alkorta, Belsué; Amor (Alfonso 70), Luis Enrique, Hierro, Guerrero (Amavisca 51), Caminero (Donato 82); Pizzi
Substitutes: Juanma López, Cañizares, Kiko, Otero, Manjarín, Salinas, Molina
Coach: Javier Clemente

Bulgaria: Mihaylov (c); Kiryakov (Tsvetanov 72), Hubchev, Ivanov, Kishishev; Letchkov, Yankov, Kostadinov (Yordanov 73); Penev (Borimirov 78), Balakov, Stoichkov
Substitutes: Popov, Genchev, Sirakov, Kremenliev, Ginchev, Donkov, Georgiev, Zdravkov
Coach: Dimitar Penev

Referee: Pietro Ceccarini (Italy)

Man of the Match: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria)