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Spain will defend their UEFA European Under-21 Championship crown in Tuesday's final after another attractive display helped them defeat Norway.
After camping themselves in the Norway half for the first 45 minutes, Spain finally broke through just before the break when Rodrigo got off the mark in the tournament. Julen Lopetegui's team were less dynamic after the interval but Isco put the result beyond doubt in the 87th minute before Álvaro Morata finished matters in added time.
Thus far in Israel, Spain have made a habit of dominating play before delivering a late, decisive blow against worn down opponents. This time the breakthrough came earlier, albeit with virtually the last kick of the first half, before late goals added gloss to the scoreline. The warning signs started a good deal earlier. Isco was the early conductor, shooting just wide before bringing the first of a string of acrobatic saves from Orjan Nyland Haskjold.
Cristian Tello soon took up the baton, but found Nyland in just as formidable form, with the keeper repelling a couple of thrusts into the area by the FC Barcelona forward. Then, midway through the half, a period of intense Spain pressure ended with Nyland beating away Alberto Moreno's beautifully struck volley and then somehow getting the merest of touches on Rodrigo's follow-up to divert it against a post.
The pressure was building. Nyland thwarted Asier Illarramendi's deflected shot and palmed another Tello effort wide, but even he could do nothing as Rodrigo reacted quickest to flick in when the ball popped loose following Marc Bartra's challenge on Stefan Strandberg. It was his 15th goal in 15 appearances for Spain, but his first at the finals.
Norway regrouped and brought on Håvard Nielsen at the break. Eight minutes later he nearly created an equaliser, bursting through a couple of tackles and teeing up Markus Henriksen whose firm shot was goalbound until taking a nick off Moreno which sent it just over. Spain's fluency had deserted them momentarily, and Norway won a couple of corners – one of which Strandberg headed just wide.
With four minutes remaining Strandberg blazed over from just five metres after his centre-back partner Fredrik Semb Berge had headed into his direction. If it served as as wake-up call, Isco took immediate notice and scored a well-constructed second, turning Håvard Nordtveit and toe-poking into the top corner. Morata then got in on the act deep into added time, turning in his own rebound from a tight angle to register his fourth of the finals and seal Spain's place in the Jerusalem showpiece.
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