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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 June, 2004, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Spain 1-0 Russia

Juan Carlos Valeron scores for Spain
Juan Carlos Valeron fired Spain into pole position in Group A only 36 seconds after coming on as a second-half substitute against Russia.

Valeron took two touches before rifling home Carles Puyol's teasing cross from inside the Russian area.

Russia, who had gone closest to scoring in the first half when Dmitry Alenichev saw his shot blocked by Iker Casillas, could not find an equaliser.

And their misery was compounded when Roman Sharonov was sent off late on.

Portugal's surprise defeat to Greece in the opening match of the tournament gave both sides a huge incentive to go for victory in the second Group A game at the Estadio Algarve.

And it was Spain who made the brighter start, attacking the Russians with verve.

The in-form Fernando Morientes partnered Raul up front, and the pair rekindled their Real Madrid form of a couple of seasons ago by constantly probing Russia's defence.

We certainly had to suffer a lot to get this victory
Spain goalscorer Juan Carlos Valeron

Spain's Valencia contingent - Vicente, Carlos Marchena, David Albelda and Ruben Baraja - looked impressive with Vicente particularly dangerous on the left wing.

Inaki Saez's men bossed the midfield and constantly pressed their Russian opponents, who were missing key defenders Victor Onopko and Sergei Ignashevich.

KEY MOMENTS
35 mins: Fernando Morientes heads straight at Sergei Ovchinnikov
36 mins: Dmitry Alenichev forces a fine save from Iker Casillas
60 mins: Juan Carlos Valeron fires Spain into the lead
88 mins: Roman Sharonov is sent off for a second bookable offence

Initially, Russia struggled to cope with wave after wave of Spanish attack as they were pulled in every direction.

Yet Spain were unable to deliver a final product in the first half, epitomised by Joseba Etxeberria's scuffed shot after Morientes had headed straight at Sergei Ovchinnikov from Vicente's cross.

That let-off lifted Russia, who almost went on to score through Alenichev on the break.

Alenichev jinked past several Spain defenders before forcing a great save from Casillas as Russia reached half time in the ascendancy with Dmitry Bulykin, Alexander Mostovoi and Yevgeny Aldonin the focus of their attacks.

After the break, Raul squandered an excellent opportunity to give Spain the lead when he failed to even find the target with a header from Etxeberria's accurate cross from the right.

Our defeat was mainly due to our nerves
Russia midfielder Dmitry Alenichev

With an hour gone, Spain coach Saez opted to change his line-up, bringing on Valeron and Xabi Alonso for Morientes and Baraja.

And it proved a tactical masterstroke as Valeron rifled in Spain's opener with his first two touches after being set up by the excellent right-back Puyol, who had surged into Russia's area.

Rather than holding on to the 1-0 lead, Saez sought to extend Spain's advantage and replaced Raul with Atletico Madrid's exciting young prospect Fernando Torres.

The striker received a rapturous reception from Spain's fans and almost made an immediate impact, but his goalbound shot was blocked.

Russia's already depleted rearguard then suffered another blow in the dying minutes of the game when Sharonov was sent off for a second bookable offence for bringing down Torres on the edge of the area.


Spain: Casillas, Puyol, Marchena, Helguera, Bravo, Etxeberria, Albelda, Baraja (Alonso 59), Vicente, Raul (Torres 77), Morientes (Valeron 59).
Subs Not Used: Canizares, Aranzubia, Capdevila, Luque, Gabri, Cesar, Joaquin, Xavi, Juanito.

Booked: Baraja, Marchena, Albelda.

Russia: Ovchinnikov, Evseev, Smertin, Sharonov, Sennikov, Gusev (Radimov 45), Alenitchev, Aldonin (Sychev 68), Mostovoi, Izmailov (Kariaka 74), Boulykin.
Subs Not Used: Malafeev, Akinfeev, Semshov, Kerzhakov, Aniukov, Kirichenko, Bystrov, Loskov, Bugaev.

Sent Off: Sharonov (88).
Booked: Gusev, Sharonov, Smertin, Aldonin, Radimov.

Attendance: 30,000.

Referee: Urs Meier (Switzerland).


OFFICIAL STATS BY UEFA
Category Spain Russia
Total shots 13 7
Shots on target 4 3
Possession 57% 43%
Corners won 4 3
Fouls committed 11 21
Offsides 4 0
Bookings 3 6
Sent Off 0 1



TRIVIA

  • Russia have equalled the competition record of eight matches without a win after this loss to Spain. This record is also held by Yugoslavia and Romania who both ended their streaks at Euro 2000.
  • Russian Roman Sharonov received two yellow cards and became the first player to be sent off in this year's competition and the 24th to be red carded in European Championship history.
  • Substitute Juan Carlos Valerón scored the 40th Euro goal by a substitute. Valerón is the third substitute to achieve this feat within a minute of coming on.





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