Tough semi-final awaits Spain in U21 Euros

Spain are one win away from a ninth UEFA European U21 Championship final appearance and two wins from a fifth title in this competition, with Ukraine standing in their in tonight’s semi-final.

The task facing Santi Denia’s side at the Stadionul Steaua in Bucharest will not be an easy one; the two sides played out a 2-2 draw in the group stage just eight days ago, requiring a 90th-minute equaliser from Braga’s Abel Ruiz to salvage a point.

That meant Spain and Ukraine advanced as the top two in group B. La Rojita began with a comfortable 3-0 win over co-hosts Romania before another Ruiz goal – this time in the first minute – was enough to beat Croatia.

Manchester City’s Sergio Gómez put them ahead in the quarter-final against Switzerland at the weekend only for Mohamed Amdouni’s late equaliser to send the tie to extra time, in which Juan Miranda of Real Betis scored the winner with a deflected effort from outside the area.

Spain will have to be wary of the competition’s top scorer, Heorhiy Sudakov, who scored twice in the Ukranians’ 3-1 win over France in the previous round, taking his total to three after scoring from the penalty spot against the young Spaniards.

Gómez, Miranda and Ruiz have all struck twice for Spain, while Villarreal’s Álex Baena scored Spain’s first of the tournament, against Romania.

The winner takes on the victor in tonight’s other semi-final between England and Israel. Not only does the England vs Israel fixture kick-off two hours earlier, but it is being played at the Batumi Arena in Georgia – the venue for the final.

Therefore, should Spain progress, they face a late finish plus a trip across the Black Sea, neither of which their potential opponents would have to contend with.

Anthony Tomas | GSFN

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