Spain sweep into U19 final
Wednesday, 26 July 2006
Spain 5-0 Austria Javi García scored twice as Spain booked a place in Saturday's Under-19 final in comprehensive style.
Spain will attempt to lift the UEFA European Under-19 Championship trophy for the third time in five seasons on Saturday after a controlled display earned a 5-0 semi-final victory against Austria.
The Iberian side always looked in command in Wronki although they initially struggled to pick a way through an organised Austrian team shorn of the services of their four-goal striker Erwin Hoffer through suspension. His absence deprived Paul Gludovatz's side of their principal attacking threat and once a well-worked goal from Jeffrén Suárez and Javi García's fortuitous free-kick had given Spain a two-goal half-time lead Austria rarely looked like getting back into the match. Juan Mata, Javi García again and Alberto Bueno added further strikes inside the final 20 minutes, meaning Spain will now play Scotland in the final following their 1-0 win against the Czech Republic.
Spain coach Ginés Meléndez made no fewer than seven changes to the side that concluded their Group B campaign with a 1-1 draw against Portugal on Sunday, and his players started as if keen to renew acquaintances as a well-disciplined Austrian side sat back and allowed their opponents the majority of possession. Austria goalkeeper Bartolomej Kuru and his opposite number Antonio Adán were both tested by a succession of long shots in the opening stages and, while neither was seriously troubled, the unmarked Clemens Walch might have done better than side-foot wide after good work by Butrint Vishaj down the Austrian left.
Almost immediately Kuru had to spring to his right to catch Mata's curling effort before the Austrian goalkeeper did well to keep out Javi García's powerful low free-kick at the foot of his left-hand post. Kuru was finally beaten four minutes past the half-hour, as Gerard Piqué brought the ball out of defence and found Mata, whose pass picked out the advancing Jeffrén to drill in at the near post. The Austrian No1 was even more unfortunate eight minutes later as Javi García's curling free-kick struck the crossbar, rebounding against the helpless goalkeeper before creeping into the net to double the Spanish advantage.
Two-nil might have become three early in the second period as Austria failed to clear a free-kick and Mario Suárez set up Piqué, but the centre-back shot over with only Kuru to beat. It mattered little, however, as Mata exchanged passes with his strike partner Bueno to stroke in the third with 18 minutes remaining. Javi García made it four eight minutes later, springing the Austrian offside trap to beat Kuru, and Bueno's fifth two minutes from time from Mata's unselfish low cross low rounded off a perfect afternoon for Spain.