Ginés Meléndez was satisfied as Spain belatedly made a winning start to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, joining Serbia on three points at the top of Group B with a 4-1 win against Belgium in a match rescheduled from Wednesday. The Spain coach acknowledges that plenty of improvement is still required however, while unsurprisingly, Marc Van Geersom pointed to the early dismissal of goalkeeper Koen Casteels as the game's key moment, although the beaten coach still found plenty of reason for cheer.
SPAIN 4-1 BELGIUM
Ginés Meléndez, Spain coach
We knew it was going to be a difficult game because when you face the same team two days running it's very complicated. That was our biggest handicap. We would like to congratulate Belgium despite the fact they lost; at no point did they ever give up. Above all I would like to tip my hat to their trainer Marc Van Geersom because he put in a solid tactical plan when the game got difficult for them. We knew sooner or later we were going to score a second goal. The only danger they had caused us up to then was the long-range shot that brought them level. I would guess that we had about 70% of the possession.
Obviously there were some weaknesses in our game; at times we weren't as fluid as we could have been but that has an explanation: this was the first game we have played since we qualified. We didn't play a single preparatory match. It was very important that we won the first game because it gave the side confidence.
Marc Van Geersom, Belgium coach
The red card was what went wrong for us; it's difficult enough to get the ball against Spain, they press very high and it's hard to get it off them. With ten men it's even more difficult but the team fought with great heart. When we got back to 1-1 everything was possible; the game certainly wasn't over. In the last five minutes we tried to play higher and, when the spaces between the lines are bigger, it was much easier for Spain to play.
Our strength is our organisation and the fact we try to play behind two strikers. We have a complete team; they fought for each other and everyone did a big job today. This wasn’t a normal game, from time to time you can win with ten players but perhaps only one time in a hundred. It's hard enough to get a result against Spain, even against ten players.
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