European Under-21 Champioinships

Spain deny Belarus, meet Swiss in final

June 22, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Spain will take on Switzerland in the finals of the European U21 Championships after both came through periods of extra time to win through to Saturday's final.

Spain players celebrate their progress - but they had to be patient
GettyImagesSpain players celebrate their progress - but they had to be patient

Spain were short-priced favourites for the tournament and remain so after their defeat of Belarus took them to final in Denmark but they were made to wait until the last minute of the 90 to deny the Belarussians before prevailing 3-1 in extra-time.

The Spanish dominated possession in their usual fashion but fell behind to a wondrous goal from Andrei Voronkov, with a flying overhead kick. Thereafter Belarus defended deep and with real quality, and a surprise finalist looked in store.

Adrian, of Atletico Madrid, looked to be set for a disappointing night when being denied by a post, and keeper Gutor but persistence paid off when he got on the end of a Jeffren cross to poke in with barely a minute of normal time to spare. Belarus' players collapsed to the ground in agony and the inevitable happened in extra time.

Diego Capel crossed to Adrian, who nodded into the corner in the 105th minute for his fifth goal of the tournament. Jeffren, linked with a move from Barcelona to Udinese, scored a late screamer to complete a win that was celebrated passionately by the Spanish staff and players.

Switzerland's group-stage 100% record had most expecting them to beat a Czech Republic team who had made the semis at a late stage against England. Their 1-0 win came as all seemed headed for penalties.

A dour first 45 minutes was followed by a similar second period but the Swiss almost won when Xherdan Shaqir struck a post in injury time.

Extra time followed a pattern of Swiss attacking and Czech defending. But Admir Mehmedi finally supplied the inspiration lacking all evening with a 25-yard opportunistic strike to set up the final most have been expecting since the competition began.