Germany claim first Under-21 crown
Monday, June 29, 2009
Germany 4-0 England
Mesut Özil set up two goals and scored another as Germany won their first UEFA European Under-21 Championship title in Sweden.
Article top media content
Germany claimed the UEFA European Under-21 Championship title for the first time with a comprehensive 4-0 win against England in the final at the Malmö New Stadium.
Mesut Özil teed up Gonzalo Castro for the first goal on 23 minutes then scored the second with a long-range free-kick early in the second half as Germany avenged their defeat by England in the 1982 final. Stuart Pearce's side briefly rallied, but Germany's defence held firm as it had all tournament. Sandro Wagner's late double sealed a hat-trick of UEFA age-group titles for his country, adding the U21 trophy to the U19 and U17 gongs collected over the last eleven months.
Germany coach Horst Hrubesch had changed formation to accommodate centre-back Mats Hummels as a holding midfielder, and he was instrumental in breaking up play, twice making timely interceptions as England tried to release Theo Walcott. With Germany deploying just Wagner, in for the suspended Ashkan Dejagah, up front, England were struggling to break through a compact Germany midfield. Özil, though, was able to find space on 15 minutes and when Sami Khedira pulled the ball back it took an excellent block by Nedum Onuoha to steer his shot from danger.
Germany were soon ahead, with Özil the instigator. The Werder Bremen playmaker slipped Castro in beyond Martin Cranie down the left and, as in the 1-1 Group B draw with England the previous Monday, he touched the ball over the advancing Scott Loach and into the far corner of the net. England looked short of ideas and Walcott, used in a central striking role with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Fraizer Campbell suspended, appeared isolated. Sebastian Boenisch shot narrowly wide then Özil had a free-kick deflected over, though the biggest cheer was reserved for the hosts at half-time.
The Sweden side that had lost to England on penalties in the semi-finals came on for a deserved lap of honour and a packed house rose to salute their new heroes. They had more to applaud three minutes after the restart when Loach, making his second U21 start in place of the banned Joe Hart, lost the flight of Özil's swerving 35-metre free-kick and palmed the ball into his own goal. Germany had scored at the same point against Italy in the last four, and with them having conceded only once all tournament, it was hard to see England getting back into the game.
Lee Cattermole did beat Germany keeper Manuel Neuer from distance, only to skim the top of the crossbar, while James Milner cut the ball back for Adam Johnson whose goal-bound back-heel was blocked by Andreas Beck. Beck also cleared a Cattermole header off the line. On the break Germany threatened and Wagner should have touched in Özil's low pass with 15 minutes to play. Four minutes later he made no mistake, latching on to Özil's pass then firing between Loach's legs. There was still time for the forward to add the fourth with a curling shot which completed the scoring and the biggest margin of victory in an U21 final.