Spain 6, Bulgaria 1
LENS, France (AP) _ 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 in the parallel Group D match against Nigeria.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia looked on as Spain demonstrated speed and skill unseen in its first two World Cup matches against Nigeria and Paraguay. It controlled possession for much of the game, although Bulgaria improved its performance in the midfield and up front in the second half.
Fernando Hiero converted a penalty in the sixth minute _ sending Bulgaria’s goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov to his right by placing a shot into the opposite side of the net _ after defender Ivaylo Iordanov brought down Luis Enrique as he broke into the Bulgarian box from the left.
Twelve minutes later, Joseba Etxeberria raced down the right to cross to the Barcelona all-rounder, who beat two Bulgarian defenders to send the ball from 8 meters past the advancing Zdravkov into the far, right side of the goal.
Spain pressed on with a series of flowing attacks, with a pace Bulgaria’s aging veterans could not match.
Bulgaria’s star attackers Hristo Stoickov and Emil Kostadinov were marked handily by Rafael Alkorta and Miguel Nadal, who allowed very little past them.
Luis Enrigue set up Spain’s third goal on a on a fast break from midfield in the 53rd minute, finding Francisco Morientes who drilled it low from 14 meters into the keeper’s left-hand corner.
Three minutes later, Bulgaria made it 3-1 when Kostadinov swiveled around and fired from 12 meters out, squeezing the ball between Alkorta and Zubizarreta and hitting the left post before bouncing into the net.
In the 80th minute Raul Gonzales flicked the ball to the unmarked Morientes at the edge of the area. The Real Madrid striker pushed it past the diving Zdravkov from 6 meters.
Nine minutes later, Zdravkov elbowed the ball in after a header by Kiko Narvaez bounced off the crossbar.
Spain made it 6-1 three minutes into injury time, when Kiko took the ball down from a cross from the left, turned and shot it between Zdravkov’s legs.
But by that time there was no joy ampong the Spanish players. They were aware that Paraguay had just beaten Nigeria 3-1, thus qualifying for the next phase instead of the third-placed Spaniards.
Spain _ Andoni Zubizarreta, Carlos Aguilera, Rafael Alkorta, Miguel Angel Nadal, Sergi Barjuan, Fernando Hierro, Guillermo Amor, Joseba Etxeberria (Raul Gonzales, 51st minute), Luis Enrique Martinez (Julen Guerrero 70th minute), Fernando Morientes, Alfonso Perez (Kiko Narvaez 65th minute).
Bulgaria _ Zdravko Zdravkov, Radostin Kischishev, Trifon Ivanov, Ivaylo Iordanov, Gocho Guintchev, Krassimir Balakov, Anatoli Nankov (Luboslav Penev, 28th minute), Daniel Borimirov, Georgi Batchev, Emil Kostadinov, Hristo Stoichkov (Ilian Iliev, 46th minute).
Referee: Mario Van Der Ende (Netherlands)