Spain and Netherlands advance to U21 semis

Spain and the Netherlands advanced to the semi-finals of the Euro Under-21 Championships in Israel on Sunday with two convincing performances that eliminated Germany and Russia.

Spain relied on a solitary goal from Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata to beat Germany in Netanya, while the Dutch were far more expansive in a 5-1 drubbing of Russia, who played most of the second half of their match in Jerusalem with 10 men.

With one game still to play, Netherlands and Spain are now tied on six points at the top of Group B after two wins from their opening two matches while Germany and Russia are both out of contention with no points.

Germany defended well for much of the match but did little to threaten the Spanish goal and eventually conceded in the 86th minute.

Morata, who also headed the winner against Russia on Thursday, cut in from the left and found the net with a shot that deflected in off the leg of German goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

"The team played a fantastic match against a great side and showed character, ambition and personality. I am very proud of the lads," Spain coach Julen Lopetegui told a news conference.

"I did not expect to qualify so soon. All our energy is focused on the Netherlands game now. We will prepare with a great deal of care."

Netherlands, who scored a 90th-minute winner to beat Germany 3-2 on Thursday, again showed their quality and discipline as they crushed Russia, who looked threatening early on.

The breakthrough came in the 38th minute when talented right-sided midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum blasted a shot from 22 metres that beat Russian goalkeeper Nikolai Zabolotni.

The Russians stayed in the encounter but their hopes of finding an equaliser were dealt a blow when Nikita Chicherin was shown a red card for a tackle from behind on Adam Maher in the 49th minute.

The Dutch looked to have the match wrapped up when they scored again in the 61st minute as Luuk De Jong of Borussia Monchengladbach headed in easily from a Wijnaldum cross from the right.

Russia did not give up, however, and in the 65th minute Denis Cheryshev reduced the arrears following a period of concerted pressure on the Dutch goal.

It was all they could muster, though, as the talented Netherlands players started to punch holes in their defence.

The men in orange scored three more times. Ola John converted in the 69th minute, before substitutes Danny Hosen and Leroy Fer secured the win late on.

Spain and the Netherlands will face each other in the last Group B match on Wednesday to determine their position in the group while Germany will face Russia in a "dead" fixture.

In Tuesday's Group A matches, Italy, who have qualified, will meet Norway who are all but certain to be the second team to advance to the semi-finals. Israel, who have a theoretical chance to advance, will meet England.

The semi-finals will be played on Saturday and the final next Tuesday in Jerusalem.


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