With Spain seemingly destined to finish third in Group B and miss out on the quarter-finals, substitute Guillermo Amor intervened with six minutes remaining to send Javier Clemente's team through at Bulgaria's expense.
Though Spain had extended their unbeaten run to 18 games by drawing their opening two fixtures, they remained outsiders to progress going into the final round of games. In need of a victory regardless of the outcome between France and Bulgaria, their task appeared all the brighter after Javier Manjarín's 11th-minute opener at Elland Road. Florin Răducioiu equalised just after the half-hour, though, and it was not until late on that Spain's progress was assured; Les Bleus' 3-1 victory in Newcastle ensured they finished at the section summit.
The return of Miguel Nadal to Spain's midfield added some welcome steel but it was another newcomer, Manjarín, who was first to play a decisive role when he finished precisely after the ball had fortuitously bounced his way off the back of Antonio Pizzi's foot.
Orchestrated by Gheorghe Hagi, not at his best on his 100th international appearance, Romania could not be discounted. They duly drew level on 29 minutes when their talismanic captain played in Răducioiu, who did the rest to register his country's first goal of the tournament.
Spain upped the tempo after the restart – events at St James' Park were going in their favour but they needed another goal regardless. It came as the Romanian resistance started to weaken, Amor stooping forward to head in after Alfonso Pérez had deftly touched back Sergi Barjuán's cross. Celebrations all round, especially for the goalscorer, who flew home the next day for the birth of his child.
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