2004 European qualifier
Iñaki Sáez's new Spanish side got off to the best possible start with an away victory against possibly their most difficult rivals, Greece. Sáez kept faith with the group of young players he drafted in for the friendly game at Hungary, with none of the back four having played in the recent World Cup. They proved him right however, and took advantage of the few chances offered to them by a combative Greek side to take an invaluable three points.
Real Madrid's Raúl was given the striker's role to make room for Valerón, and with only eight minutes gone a defensive mistake gifted the ball to the Depor midfielder for him to set up his new captain to score. It was Raúl's 29th international goal, and takes him level with Hierro as Spain's all time top scorer.
However half time substitute Basinas almost levelled the scores with a shot against the bar, and Sáez turned to the more experienced Mendieta and Baraja to restore control in midfield. Then with a quarter of an hour to go Raúl returned the earlier favour, laying the ball back for Valerón to blast the ball past Nikopolidis.
It was enough to knock the stuffing out of their opponents, and although García Calvo had to head off the line from Vryzas five minutes from the end, Spain held on to end the day already top of their group. (07.09.02)