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Holtby inspires Germany to sink Swiss

Switzerland 1-3 Germany (agg: 2-4)
Lewis Holtby inspired Rainer Adrion's side to victory in Lucerne, ensuring a return to UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals.

Lewis Holtby is hoisted aloft by Karim Bellarabi after scoring Germany's opener
Lewis Holtby is hoisted aloft by Karim Bellarabi after scoring Germany's opener ©Getty Images

Germany will return to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2009 after Lewis Holtby's powerful first-half performance laid the platform against 2011 runners-up Switzerland.

With the tie delicately balanced at 1-1 after the first leg in Leverkusen, skipper Holtby seized control of the game in the eighth minute when he curled a free-kick from the Germany right inside Roman Bürki's far post. The FC Schalke 04 midfielder wreaked further havoc 12 minutes later from an almost identical position, his set piece cannoning in off team-mate Lasse Sobiech to silence the Lucerne crowd.

Empowered by their early double, Rainer Adrion's team built on their dominance in midfield, and through Stefan Thesker's wayward close-range header they threatened a third. Perseverance was to reap rewards on the stroke of half-time as Holtby pulled the strings in the centre circle, setting Karim Bellarabi free on the Germany left. The Bayer 04 Leverkusen winger teed up a tap-in for Sebastian Polter to put the tie beyond Switzerland's reach.

Pierluigi Tami's side battled on gamely, but Bernd Leno in the Germany goal was at his athletic best when called upon. He parried Nzuzi Toko's stinging volley to safety and was on hand at the near post to repel substitute Oliver Buff's effort at the end of a tricky run. Eventually, the hosts ensured that Germany's passage to the finals in Israel would not be blemish free, as first-leg scorer Josip Drmic met Buff's pass to slide home a 75th-minute consolation.