Spain will clash with Norway in the first of Saturday’s semi-finals heading in with a 100% record without conceding a goal although they have Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea to thank for that. Will Burns presents a rundown of the final games in Group B.
RUSSIA 1-2 GERMANY
Germany bowed out with a win with goals from Patrick Herrmann and Sebastian Rudy to defeat ten-man Russia in both sides’ last game in Israel.
Playmaker Alan Dzagoev got the Russians in front on 22 minutes, but the double blow of Patrick Herrmann’s equaliser and Georgi Schennikov’s sending off before half-time halted Russia’s momentum. A Sebastian Rudy 69th-minute spot kick put Germany in front and although Fedor Smolov nearly earned Nikolai Pisarev’s men a point late on, it was Russia who finished their campaign with zero points.
Being down to ten-men has haunted Russia throughout the tournament and following Nikita Chicherin’s dismissal on Saturday, Schennikov had to depart six minutes before the break after fouling Tony Jantschke. Up to that point, they had looked dangerous especially through the tricky Dzagoev, even if the Germans had cancelled out the CSKA Moscow man’s efforts.
The opening goal arrived after Rainer Adrion’s side failed to clear the ball and unfortunately for them, fell to the lethal Dzagoev. A quick trade of passes with Shota Bibilov and Dzagoev fired in a left footed shot from just inside the area.
Germany had come close themselves, with the hard-working Kevin Volland failing to find the finishing touch, he did prove himself a precise provider. On 34 minutes, the powerhouse burst away down the left and crossed for Herrmann to tuck in the leveller.
At first, Schennikov’s dismissal did not change the game as much as you would expect and it was an even game but Herrmann volleyed just wide soon after the break.
Denis Cheryshev shot just over at the other end, but just a minute later Germany were in front when Taras Burlak impeded Herrmann and half-time sub Rudy stepped up to hit home his second penalty of the tournament. Patrick Funk brought the best from goalkeeper Aleksandr Flitsov, but Dzagoev was a whisker away from a superb second with ten minute remaining as Russia pushed Germany to the end.
Fedor Smolov then hit the post with a fierce drive but it could not prevent Russia becoming the fifth side to gain no points at the finals since the onset of an eight-team group stage. Although if you had watch any of the games, they have been very unlucky to gain that record. In the opening game, they played well enough to gain a point against Spain and like tonight, against the Dutch in game two, they were holding their own until they suffered a sending off.
SPAIN 3-0 NETHERLANDS
Jong Oranje coach Cor Pot rested all eleven players from the emphatic 5-1 win over Russia, as they were defeated 3-0 by tournament favourites Spain.
Julen Lopetegui’s side dominated the match from start to finish, himself resting seven players from The Spanish’s last game, a narrow 1-0 win over Germany.
With their place in the semi-finals assured, both teams made the changes to their starting line-up, but there was still an array of talent on show. Spain were captained by Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who was partnered in midfielder by Malaga starlet Isco. Real Madrid highly rated prospect Alvaro Morata was starring up top.
For the Dutch, they left the likes of Luuk de Jong and Kevin Strootman on the bench with Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie, Kelvin Leerdam, Tonny Vilhena and Chelsea’s Patrick van Aanholt all receiving their first start.
From the opening moments, Spain were intent on keeping possession, and Holland intent on pressing their opponents into their own half.
The team in red were getting frustrated and eventually when Morata got a chance to get through on goal, the game had already been stopped for a foul on Pablo Sarabia.
From the resulting free-kick, we had our first chance on 10 minutes when Alcantara tried his luck from 40 yards, but his effort was easily saved by Dutch ‘keeper Marco Bizot.
Lopetegiu’s men began to thread some good moves together and 25 minutes they found themselves ahead. Morata netting his his third goal in three games, but the praise will go to teammate Sarabia, who was extremely unselfish in cutting the ball across the six-yard box to the awaiting Morata.
The Jong Oranje were positive in their reply to going a goal behind, with the fast Florian Jozefzoon making the Spanish defenders looking like old men by gliding past them. Just before half an hour, Memphis Depay lined up a free-kick from way, way out, around 35 yards. Depay smashed it goalwards and it deflected off a couple of players before finding central defender Mike van der Hoorn six yards out, but he could only sidefoot the ball straight at goalkeeper David De Gea.
Ruing that miss the Dutch were two goals down minutes later, Iker Muniain played a pin-point through ball into the stride of playmaker Isco, who showed impeccable composure in lifting the ball over the goalkeeper Bizot from 12 yards. Spain were in total control now.
No changes were made by the Dutch at the break, Cor Pot thinking there might not be much benefit in making any changes to the Netherlands. Why would he really want to risk one of his key players for Saturday’s semi-final in a match they are likely to lose anyway?
Early in the second half, Ignacio Camacho suffered an ankle problem and was subsequently replaced by Asier Illarramendi, the Atletico man could be a doubt for Saturday’s game.
Just before the hour, De Gea saved Spain again and it was a tremendous effort by Depay. In a similar free-kick to the first-half, he lifted it over the wall and onto towatrds goal with tremendous speed. It was a phenomenal shot from the PSV striker, but it was an even better save from De Gea, the ball was struck a from 35 yards out, and just as it appears to be heading for the top corner, De Gea tipped the ball onto the crossbar.
The Dutch were the better side since the interval, but Pot’s side failed to make any of their pressure count, with Depay struggled to nod the ball home from six yards out. Spain had taken their foot off the gas but a great counter-attacking move nearly grabbed them a third on 65 minutes.
It was a fabulous breakaway, Illarramendi sending fellow substitute Alvaro Vasquez clear, but Bizot made a stunning one-handed save to keep the score at 2-0. From the resulting corner, an Illarramendi volley was cleared off the line by a Clasie header.
On 70 minutes, Pot made the only Dutch change of the game with the energetic Adam Maher being brought on forVilhena. Maher made an immediate impact and lifted the side but still failed to find the goal, the AZ man sliced a volley wide from 12 yards.
Minutes later, Maher found space and the ball perfectly for him to blast at goal, De Gea once again saving the Spanish but the ball fell to the quiet Danny Hoesen. The Ajax striker disappointingly made the wrong decision and fired his shot into the ground, the ball fired up and smashed off the crossbar.
In stoppage time, Spain made it three and it was man-of-the-match Sarabia again involved. Breaking down the left-hand side of the penalty area, he fired the ball across goal for Vasquez to score.
The Dutch play Italy on Saturday evening as the Spanish play Norway hours earlier. The bookies are tipping that we will see a replay of this game in the final but it will be a whole different story with two full strength sides. The returning strength of Strootman, the back line intimidation of Bruno Martins Indi and the hold-up play of Luuk de Jong will be battling for that trophy come Saturday.
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