The Dutch and the Spanish were celebrating after winning their second group matches and advancing to the semi-finals, while Germany and Russia will be preparing to pack their luggage to return home. Will Burns and Andy Powell review all Sunday’s action in Israel.
NETHERLANDS 5-1 RUSSIA
The Jong Oranje qualified for last four of the Under-21 European Champions after romping to 5-1 win against ten-man Russia in Jerusalem on Sunday evening.
Throughout the majority of the first half the Russians were showing the same resilience and organisation that frustrated Spain in their first group game. It took Holland 39 minutes before PSV attacking midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum broke the Russian guard.
Wijnaldum drove at the opposition defence before rifling hard and low into the bottom corner, the ball taking the slightest deflection off defender Taras Burlak. It was an eye-catching strike and the balance was further shifted in the Cor Pot’s teams favour when Dinamo Moscow defender Nikita Chicherin was shown red soon after half-time.
Russia did show flashes of promise, but Chicherin’s dismissal for a foul on Adam Maher was the first real blow. Holland took full advantage when Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Luuk De Jong sent goalkeeper Nikolai Zabolotni the wrong way in the 61st minute with a clever header from Marco van Ginkel’s probing cross.
The spirit inside the ten-men of Nikolai Pisarev’s side responded four minutes later when playmaker Alan Dzagoev’s header smashed the post and bounced straight into the path of Denis Cheryshev. Pot urged his team forward, the Dutch soon hit back and made it 3-1 when Benfica winger Ola John gambled on De Jong’s flick-on and dinked over the Russian ‘keeper.
A similar finish gave substitute striker Danny Hoesen the fourth goal with his first touch after coming on. Leroy Fer repeated his feat in the first group game against Germany and scored a goal in injury time to send the Russians home. The Dutch need just a point against Spain to finish top of the group thanks to their superior goal difference.
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SPAIN 1-0 GERMANY
In a game which promised goals, a late strike by super sub Alvaro Morata put Spain into the Semi-Finals of the Euro U21 Championship, breaking German hearts. The scoreline, coupled with a good Holland win over Russia, was enough to send Germany out of the competition a game early.
The Germans can have no excuse however as the game panned out in the same manner as the Spain-Russia tie, a lot of Spanish possession, however unable to convert their chances. The games first chance fell to German captain Lewis Holtby, testing Premier League star David de Gea. However soon after, the Spaniards dominated the game through possession typical of the approaches of the senior team. Barcelona man Thaigo went the closest for Spain in the first half, beating German keeper Bernd Leno midway through the half but his shot came back of the post. Another glorious chance opened up for Rodrigo, from a brilliant ball from the ever impressive Isco, rounded Leno however his shot hit the side netting.
The second half followed much of the same, Spain dominating possession, and Germany looking to score on the counter. Rodrigo went close again, almost pouncing on a mistake by Leno, the German keeper doing well to recover before Asier Illarramendi drove through the midfield lashing his shot from the edge of the area inches wide.
Just as Germany were beginning to think they had weathered the storm and came away with a draw, poor defending let Morata run down the left, before beating Leno at his near post. The German keeper will definitely fell he should of done better, but Spain deserved their win for the flair they showed in breaking down a stubborn German team. As with Russia, the win came late however Spain are now in the Semi-finals, second on goal difference in the group, and a mouth-watering tie again an impressive Dutch team awaits on Wednesday.
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