Spain beat Germany to claim fifth European under-21 crown

The Spain squad celebrate their victory on Sunday.
The Spain squad celebrate their victory on Sunday. / Alberto Lingria / Reuters
  • Goals from Fabián Ruiz, named player of the tournament, and Dani Olmo helped to secure a narrow victory

Spain claimed the European under-21 title for a fifth time on Sunday after overcoming reigning champions Germany, 2-1.

The Spanish side, managed by Luis de la Fuente, started the final with the same confidence that helped them to comfortably dispatch France in the semis (4-1). La Roja maintained possession well, patiently waiting to exploit any gaps in the German defence.

It didn't take long for such an opportunity to present itself. In the seventh minute, Napoli midfielder Fabián Ruiz, later named player of the tournament, bagged his second of the competition after surging through the heart of the opposition midfield before unleashing a powerful strike well beyond the reach of Alexander Nübel.

As the first half progressed, the play started to even itself out with both sides enjoying some promising moves before they ground to a halt in the final third thanks to good defensive organisation.

However, this was almost put into jeopardy for Spain when Jesús Vallejo cythed down Luca Waldschmidt as he challenged for the dropping ball. But with the help of VAR, the Real Madrid centre-half escaped red.

After the restart, the Germans had Spain under the cosh, obliging De la Fuente to make an early change, bringing on Carlos Soler for Mikel Oyarzabal and pushing Dani Olmo into the false nine position.

The change didn't bring immediate results but with 20 minutes remaining, Olmo was in the right place at the right time to double his side's lead. The Dinamo Zagreb winger followed in on Fabián's shot which was pilled by Nübel, chipping the ball over the keeper with some aplomb.

However, showing that you can never write off Germany, Nadiem Amiri got a goal back from long range with a deflection off Vallejo deceiving keeper Antonio Sivera, who was kept busy until the end.