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UEFA U21 Championship

Portugal knock out U21 European Championship holders Spain while Germany see off the Netherlands to reach final

23:05 BST 03/06/2021
Spain Portugal Under 21
The Seleccao have advanced to the showpiece event for the third time in their history, but must now overcome the 2019 runners' up to clinch the trophy

Portugal have reached the final of the U21 European Championships in Hungary and Slovenia after knocking out holders Spain, while Germany are also through following a comfortable win over the Netherlands.

Spain lifted the trophy by beating Germany 2-1 in the 2019 showpiece event, but have failed in their bid to secure back-to-back titles after a 1-0 semi-final defeat to Portugal on Thursday night.

The Seleccao can now look ahead to a meeting with Die Mannschaft, who will be aiming to banish the memory of their painful defeat two years ago in this weekend's final following a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in their last four encounter.

Spain 0-1 Portugal 

Spain booked their place in the semi-finals of the competition by beating Croatia 2-1 in the last eight earlier this week, while Portugal recorded a thrilling 5-3 win against five-time winners Italy.

Rui Jorge's side produced another stellar display to down La Roja, who have now missed the chance to surpass the Azzurri and win the U21 Euros for a record sixth time.

Spain dominated possession at Stadion Ljudski and had the better of the chances, with captain Marc Cucurella striking the post from long-range and Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz pulling a fierce shot narrowly wide.

Portugal, who were beaten finalists in both 1994 and 2015, defended admirably to stay in the match and kept looking for openings on the counter, eventually getting their reward with just ten minutes left to play.

Wolves midfielder Vitinha found Porto's Fabio Vieira in space just inside the box with a beautifully flighted through ball, and the 21-year-old then saw his attempted cross take a fortunate deflection off opposition defender Jorge Cuenca and loop into the net.

Netherlands 1-2 Germany 

The Netherlands failed to carry the momentum from their 2-1 quarter-final win against France on Monday into their encounter with Germany, who overcame Denmark after a penalty shoot-out to qualify for the semis.

Erwin van de Looi's men found themselves behind after just 30 seconds at Arena Sosto, with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Florian Wirtz turning home a cross from Manchester City's Lukas Nmecha to score his first goal at U21 level and break the record for the fastest goal in the history of the finals.

The 18-year-old doubled his account seven minutes later, producing some neat footwork to get past Oranjes centre-back Sven Botman before firing a powerful shot low into the corner of the net.

Germany continued to press for more goals, with Red Bull Salzburg forward Mergim Berisha hitting the upright from a free-kick, while the Netherlands struggled to carve out any clear chances despite edging the possession stakes.

The Oranjes did manage to pull a goal back midway through the second half through Ajax defender Perr Schuurs, but Stefan Kuntz ultimately saw his team close out the game without any problems, and will hope for a similarly disciplined display when they come up against the free-scoring Portuguese.

Where will the final be staged?

The 2021 U21 European Championship final will be held at the Stadion Stozice in Ljubljana on Sunday night.

Germany will be bidding to lift the trophy for the third time, having previously been victorious in 2009 and 2017, while Portugal will be hoping to cause an upset and clinch their maiden title.

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