Euro 2004 qualifier
Armenia 0 - Spain 4
Hovsepyan, Vardanyan, Zeciu (Bilibio 88'), Melikyan; Voskanyan (Movsesyan 78'),
Dokhoyan, Khachatryan, Artavadz Karamyan; Arman Karamyan (Artur Petrosyan 87'),
Albert Sargsyan. 4-4-2.
Group 6 table:
A meaningless victory for Spain in Armenia, where Iñaki Sáez's side failed to top their group thanks to Greece's win over Northern Ireland, leaving them with a tricky play-off tie next month. The manager was ever hopeful that the result in the other group match would go their way, but first of all he had to make sure of a win in Yerevan and hope for the best. And with Fernando Torres yet to score this season and Diego Tristán out of favour, he decided that the best line up was to bring back Valerón into his starting line up and play Raúl up front.
Although certain members of the media questioned whether that was the right thing to do on a heavy pitch, it was Valerón who put Spain in front in the seventh minute following Etxeberría's corner. But they couldn't add to that for the rest of the first half, and although there was no real danger from the hosts, Artvazd Karamyan did fire a shot just wide of Casillas's goal before the interval.
All eyes were on the scoreboard though, and with 20 minutes to go the news came in that Greece had scored with a Tsartas penalty. A minute or so later Raúl made it two for his side after Etxeberría set him up, a record 35th goal for his country, but nobody was celebrating. Substitute Reyes came on to score his first two goals for Spain near the end, but the atmosphere in the dressing room was cool after the final whistle.
Two days later Sáez was relieved to hear that his side had avoided the most difficult opponents, Holland, Turkey and Russia, and had been paired with Norway in the play-offs. However they play the second leg away, and will have ensure a good result in the first leg in the Mestalla stadium if they are to visit the frozen North with confidence.