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Spain in fine fettle after Russia victory

Spain 3-1 Russia
Julen Lopetegui's team will travel to Israel for this summer's finals in high spirits after seeing off Group B rivals Russia in the Spanish capital.

Striker Rodrigo has now scored 14 goals in 11 Under-21 games for Spain
Striker Rodrigo has now scored 14 goals in 11 Under-21 games for Spain ©Carmelo Rubio, RFEF

Spain and Russia warmed up for their UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group B opener on 6 June, with the hosts claiming a 3-1 friendly win in Alcorcon.

While La Rojita enjoyed a 5-2 victory against fellow finalists Norway in Toledo on Thursday, Nikolai Pisarev's side endured defeat in Italy and they were condemned to a third straight friendly reverse here. Goals from Rodrigo, Iker Muniain and a Thiago Alcántara penalty amply cancelled out Pavel Yakovlev's second-half equaliser.  

The hosts started strongly in a game played in blustery conditions in the Madrid suburbs with SL Benfica striker Rodrigo firing an early warning following Thiago's free-kick. Ignacio Camacho then tested Nikolai Zabolotni with a shot that the keeper did well to parry.

Spain's highest scorer at this level, Rodrigo subsequently brought his tally to 14 goals from 11 U21 games eight minutes before half-time when latching onto Gerard Deulofeu's through pass before wrong-footing defender Ibragim Tsallagov and rifling low into the corner.

Russia rallied after half-time and were rewarded for an improved showing when Yakovlev's attempt from distance was poorly handled by goalkeeper Diego Mariño, who fisted the ball across the face of his goal and in at the far post.

Athletic Club attacker Muniain was one of eight interval changes made by coach Julen Lopetegui and his trickery when combining with Thiago undid the Russian defence with 19 minutes to go. Muniain's fierce effort capped a neat move, leaving substitute keeper Aleksandr Filtsov with no chance.

The defending U21 champions were not finished and after Taras Burlak felled Martín Montoya in the area, Thiago stepped up to slot home the penalty and complete a fine week's preparation for Spain, who next meet Russia in Jerusalem.

Spain: Mariño; Montoya, Bartra (Amat 74), Nacho (Iñigo Martínez 57), Moreno (Muniesa 74); Camacho (Illarramendi 46), Thiago; Pablo Sarabia (Tello 46), Canales (Koke 57), Deulofeu (Muniain 46); Rodrigo (Álvaro 57).

Russia: Zabolotni (Filtsov 56); Tsallagov, Chicherin, Burlak, Schennikov; Petrov, Zotov, Kirillov (Sosnin 68); Yakovlev, Kanunnikov, Cheryshev (Kayumov 46).

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