Spain have won the European Under-21 Championship for a third time after Ander Herrera’s header and an extravagant Thiago Alcántara free-kick proved enough for Luis Milla’s team to beat Switzerland.
Boosted by Ander’s 41st-minute goal, Spain wore down a Swiss side who had come into the final on the back of four straight victories. Thiago’s spectacular 40-yard strike nine minutes from the end sealed the 2-0 triumph.
Perhaps it was to be expected that the two form teams, with their similar formations, should take time to feel each other out. Where Spain had five-goal Adrián and the creative Juan Mata, Switzerland could count on Admir Mehmedi and an arch-playmaker in Xherdan Shaqiri. It was the Swiss No10 who let fly their first shot in anger on the half-hour. Getting between Dídac Vila and a wayward bouncing ball, Shaqiri hit is smartly on the half-volley but David de Gea made the save.
Thiago tested Yann Sommer’s reflexes moments later, yet the first-half stalemate persisted until four minutes from the interval when a delicious curling centre from left-back Dídac Vila was met by the head of midfielder Ander. It was the Athletic Club player’s second headed goal in Denmark and another example of Spain’s excellent service from the flanks.
Watching the Spanish under-21s in the second half was like watching the senior squad. The longer the second half wore on, the more Switzerland found themselves lost in Spanish triangles.
But at 1-0, Switzerland were only a mistake or a piece of individual brilliance from getting back in the game. But the nine minutes from time, Man of the Match Thiago finished the Swiss off when he caught Sommer off his guard with an audacious 40-metre free-kick. With the Swiss now at sixes and sevens, it was a small comfort that Spain did not make it three.
Match highlights are below: