Spain U21 2-1 Germany U21: Spain claim fifth U21 European Championship title
Last Updated: 01/07/19 6:26am
Spain claimed their fifth U21 European Championship title with a 2-1 victory against Germany on Sunday, taking them level with Italy for the most tournament wins.
The sides had met exactly two years ago in the U21 Euros 2017 final - which Germany won 1-0 - but it was revenge for Spain in Udine and they started quickly as Fabian Ruiz hammered home inside seven minutes.
Germany pushed for an equaliser in the second half, but Dani Olmo (69) took advantage of a spilled save from goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel to double Spain's lead.
Nadiem Amiri made it a nervy finish with a sensational strike in the 88th minute, but Spain saw the game out to claim their first U21 Euros title in six years.
How Spain won in Italy
Spain dominated the opening exchanges and, crucially, made the pressure count by scoring in the seventh minute. Mikel Oyarzabal played a wonderful ball forward for Ruiz, who made a driving run before curling a thunderous effort into the back of the net.
Germany did not do much to worry Spain stopper Antonio Sivera with their first-half attacks. Amiri was the focal point, putting some good balls into the area, before Levin Oztunali's driving shot clipped the heels of Jesus Vallejo, sending the ball into the hands of Sivera.
Spain were unchanged from the semi-finals, but Germany made two changes. Maximilian Mittelstadt and Florian Neuhaus dropped out of the side and were replaced by Benjamin Henrichs - who was suspended for the semi-finals - and Schalke's Suat Serdar, who makes his first start of the tournament.
Spain were lucky to end the half with a full complement of players as captain Vallejo caught Luca Waldschmidt with a dangerous, studs-up tackle in the 34th minute. Serbian referee Srdjan Jovanovic gave Vallejo an instant yellow card, but a brief VAR review - somehow - did not deem it to be a sending off.
Germany were clearly given a rousing half-time team talk as they burst into life in the second period. They could have scored within three minutes as Sivera spilled an Amiri shot, but with Waldschmidt bearing down, Vallejo managed to clear. Waldschmidt then twice tried his luck from outside the area, with the first going wide and the second going straight into Sivera's hands.
They continued to test Spain and went close again after the hour mark. A Benjamin Henrichs effort smashed into the body of Unai Nunez before Amiri sent the follow-up curling shot wide. Vallejo was then in the right place once again as Lukas Klostermann cut a dangerous ball back into the area, but the Spain captain saw it behind.
But for all of Germany's pressure, it was a break from Spain that saw them double the lead. Ruiz had the initial effort from the top of the area, but the save was spilled by Neubel, allowing Olmo to nip in and chip over the goalkeeper. As he wheeled off to celebrate, VAR was checking for offside with the goal eventually given.
The goal gave Spain a second wind and they almost made it three in the 81st minute. Olmo played the ball off neatly to Carlos Soler, whose sweeping effort pinged the crossbar.
Germany did not go down quietly though, with Amiri scoring a stunning reply in the 88th minute. Waldschmidt played him through and Amiri took a few touches before curling a sensational effort over Sivera from range.
But for all their good second half work, Germany were unable to force extra-time as Spain became the new U21 Euros champions.