Pablo Fornals Scores, Spain Beat Poland to Advance to 2019 U21 Euros Semi-Final

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2019

BOLOGNA, ITALY - JUNE 22: Pablo Fornals of Spain celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the 2019 UEFA U-21 Group A match between Spain and Poland at Renato Dall'Ara Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Bologna, Italy. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Spain reached the semi-final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championships after beating Poland 5-0 at Bologna's Renato Dall'Ara stadium on Saturday.

Goals from West Ham United summer signing Pablo Fornals, Mikel Oyarzabal, Fabian Ruiz, Dani Ceballos and Borja Mayoral were enough to end Poland's 100 percent start to the competition and move Spain above them and hosts Italy into top spot in Group A.

Spain cruised into the lead thanks to some typically artful passing through midfield; Fornals, Dani Ceballos and Fabian Ruiz eased through the gears with some eye-catching one- and two-touch combinations.

There was end product to cap Spain's pretty patterns, too, when Ceballos threaded a deft pass to meet the run of Aaron Martin. The Mainz left-back whipped in a low cross that Fornals managed to prod over the line for his second goal of the tournament.

West Ham United @WestHamUtd

.@pablofornals with 2️⃣ goals in 2️⃣ games for Spain 😎 #U21EURO https://t.co/fFhF07hQbN https://t.co/E7H0v104YJ

Ceballos and Ruiz were dictating the pace of play, so it was no surprise when the former was heavily involved again in Spain's second goal 10 minutes before the break. His slide-rule pass left Oyarzabal to finish smartly on the stretch.

It was 3-0 four minutes later when Napoli playmaker Ruiz, who had already struck the frame of the goal twice, finally found his range from distance.

FootballTalentScout @FTalentScout

Dani Ceballos & Fabian Ruiz - Betis youth academy deserves HUGE credit for producing these two geniuses.

FootballTalentScout @FTalentScout

Betis academy graduates born in 1996: Junior Firpo Dani Ceballos Fabian Ruiz Francis Guerrero Wonder how their U17 team looked like back in the days... https://t.co/AjUpGoOo6i

Poland have played a cautious counter-attacking style throughout the tournament that served the team well in wins against Belgium and Italy, but Spain looked capable of scoring whenever they strung passes together in the final third, particularly with Ceballos pulling the strings.

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Dani Ceballos' first-half against Poland U-21: • 82 touches • 60 of 64 passes completed • 6 of 6 dribbles completed • 4 key passes • 1 assist Ridiculously good. https://t.co/vO2OoSVI8B

A fourth goal should have followed seven minutes after the restart, but Fornals curled his low effort just past the post. Ceballos also drew a pair of saves from Liverpool goalkeeper Kamil Grabara.

The fourth goal fittingly belonged to Ceballos via a free-kick in the 71st minute to cap another outstanding display at this level.

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

🇪🇸 Dani Ceballos (22) vs Poland U-21: 140 touches 102/111 passes 7/8 dribbles 5 key passes 4 fouls won 4/7 shots on target 4/6 long balls 3/6 tackles 1 assist 1 goal No words needed. https://t.co/AhLTX3AF9K

There was still time for Mayoral to wrap up the scoring with a fine finish.

Spain's key attacking players delivered when it counted, something they will need to do again in the knockout phase. Meanwhile, Poland ultimately paid a heavy price for erring too much on the side of caution.


What's Next?

Spain will contest their semi-final on Thursday, with Germany, Denmark, Austria, Romania and France among their possible opponents.


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