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Spain Finally Gets Win but Fails to Qualify

By Ciaran Giles
Associated Press
Wednesday, June 24, 1998; 5:40 p.m. EDT

LENS, France — Spain trounced Bulgaria, 6-1, Wednesday for its first World Cup win, but still failed to qualify for the next round because of Paraguay's victory over Nigeria.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia looked on as Spain demonstrated speed and skill unseen in its first two matches, a loss to Nigeria and a tie against Paraguay. It controlled possession for much of the game.

Fernando Hierro converted a penalty kick in the sixth minute, sending Bulgaria goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov to his right while placing a shot into the opposite side of the net. Defender Ivaylo Iordanov brought down Luis Enrique as he broke into the Bulgarian box to cause the penalty.

Twelve minutes later, Joseba Etxeberria raced down the right wing to cross a pass to Luis Enrique, who beat two Bulgarian defenders to send the ball home from 8 yards.

Spain pressed on with a series of flowing attacks and a pace Bulgaria's aging veterans could not match. Bulgarian attackers Hristo Stoichkov and Emil Kostadinov were marked handily by Rafael Alkorta and Miguel Nadal.

Luis Enrique set up Spain's third goal on a fast break from midfield in the 53rd minute. He found Francisco Morientes, who drilled it low from 14 yards.

Three minutes later, Bulgaria made it 3-1 when Kostadinov swiveled around and fired from 12 yards, squeezing the ball between Alkorta and goalie Andoni Zubizarreta and hitting the left post before bouncing into the net.

In the 81st minute, Raul flicked the ball to the unmarked Morientes at the edge of the area. The striker pushed it past the diving Zdravkov from 6 yards.

Seven minutes later, Zdravkov elbowed the ball into his net after a header by Kiko bounced off the crossbar. Kiko was given credit for the goal, and he got another in injury time, taking the ball off a cross, turning and shooting it between Zdravkov's legs.

But by that time there was no joy among the Spanish players. They were aware that Paraguay had just beaten Nigeria, thus knocking them out.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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