|International Matches - Under 21|
Greece 1 - Spain 0
Spain: Reina; Miñambres, Dani Tortolero, Rubén, Fernando Navarro; Xabi Alonso, Arteta; Julio Alvarez (Portillo 50'), Villa, Reyes (Riera 58'); Fernando Torres. 4-2-3-1.
Have Spain killed the goose that laid the golden eggs? That must be the question Spain's footballing mandates are posing at the moment after the under-21 side's disappointing defeat in Greece. Without manager Iñaki Sáez to lead them, the youngsters allowed themselves to be dominated by a stronger side physically, and failed to react when the chips were down. Sáez himself is now in charge of the senior side, but has raised doubts by picking an inexperienced squad who may have their work cut out if the Greeks employ the same tactics in tonight's full international.
That remains to be seen, but the youngsters now face an uphill battle to qualify for the 2004 European youth championships after this defeat. Co-managers Santiesteban and López Ufarte put out a side packed with players who have first team experience, lead by Fernando Torres and José Antonio Reyes who were fresh from winning the under-19 European championships in the summer. However on a heavy pitch they were not allowed to settle on the ball, and found themselves a goal down after Burnley striker Papadopoulos controlled a long ball from Christou on his chest to fire a shot over the advancing Reina.
For a few minutes Spain looked like they could equalise, and felt unlucky not to have a penalty just before the break when Arteta was obstructed in the area. However Greece closed them back down in the second half, and their frustrations showed through after Villa hunted down Agriitis from behind ten minutes from the end, provoking a brawl which involved almost all 22 players plus the Greek manager Manolas, who was shown the red card after reportedly spitting at Fernando Torres. With three minutes to go Spain were left with ten men after Dani Tortolero pulled down Agritis as he advanced on goal. It was all over, and Spain will have to do better if they are to repeat their earlier successes at this level.