European Under-21 Championships: Spain, Netherlands Record Vital Victories

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European Under-21 Championships: Spain, Netherlands Record Vital Victories
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Matchday 2 of the European Under-21 Championships significantly bettered the opener, boasting more goals to watch and higher-calibre teams facing off.

Netherlands, Spain and Germany all came into the tournament with big expectations and large amounts of faith in their youth systems, so it was always going to be interesting to see how they matched up.

Let's kick things off with the day's first encounter.

 

Spain 1-0 Russia

Spain began their Championship with a win against a very defensive Russian outfit, banishing any lingering memories of their London 2012 Olympic failures.

Juan Mata and co. failed to win a game last summer despite being heavy favourites, so an early three points was more vital than many were led to believe.

A dominant first-half display was only halted by their opponents' dogged tracking and marking, and the sides somehow went into the halftime break scoreless.

Ian Walton/Getty Images

The second half was much of the same: Isco and Thiago Alcantara dazzling, but none of the front three could offer anything in the form of a finished product. Rodrigo and Iker Muniain were making all the right runs, but failing to stick the ball in the back of the net.

Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata was subbed on and quickly saved the day.

Thiago's brilliant free kick from the left bent toward the near post, and Morata's instinctive run allowed him to nod home in the 82nd minute.

La Roja sealed it off by keeping the ball, and in truth Russia never looked like scoring.

 

Netherlands 3-2 Germany

The second encounter of the evening became pivotal following Spain's win, and what an explosive, enticing matchup it was.

Netherlands took the lead through Adam Maher in the 24th minute after dominating the opening stages, the AZ Alkmaar man firing home after good work from Ola John on the left. Bernd Leno, Germany's goalkeeper, will be disappointed with his attempt at saving the shot.

Fourteen minutes later, a stunning solo goal from Georginio Wijnaldum doubled the advantage, drifting in from the left, skipping past three challenges and firing home.

Again, Leno will be disappointed: He palmed the original effort into the air, but was powerless to stop it dropping in over the line.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images

At halftime, Germany's coach Rainer Adrion took a lot of heat. His odd team selection was denounced, while his decision to use full-backs on the opposite flanks raised serious question marks over his ability.

But just 90 seconds after the restart, his side won a penalty and Sebastian Rudy converted to bring his side back to reckoning.

Lewis Holtby, who was running the game for Germany from the No. 10 position, got the equaliser after a sensational run and expertly placed shot into the bottom corner, but the last laugh was to be Cor Pot's.

Substitute Memphis Depay fired in a delicious corner and the fresh-legged Leroy Fer arrived with a bullet header to snatch the win. A scintillating encounter finished 3-2.

 

Matchday 3 sees England take on Norway, while Italy tackle hosts Israel. Check back daily for B/R's daily wraps.


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