The Netherlands and Spain progress, Germany bow out and an event to encourage social responsibility through football. UEFA.com reviews day five of the U21 finals.
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Germany coach Rainer Adrion admitted his team had fallen short when it counted after their elimination was confirmed by a 1-0 defeat by Spain – their second loss to a late goal in Group B. "Sometimes we were a bit short in attack and short on luck too – if one of the two games had been a draw we'd have played Russia with a chance of still qualifying," said Adrion. Germany's coach responded to questions about his future as U21 coach by pointing out he had already extended his contract for another year before these finals.
It was another good day for the Netherlands as they made it two out of two in Group B, though the three points came in much less dramatic, and much more emphatic, fashion compared to the opening win against Germany as they defeated ten-man Russia 5-1.
Spain's win in the section's later game confirmed the Jong Oranje's passage to the last four, giving Cor Pot a belated present after he celebrated his 62nd birthday on Saturday. The Dutch coach was understandably enthused by his team's display, saying: "We were playing from one side to the other – we tried to open the gates every time… we played fantastic football."
Nikolai Pisarev's team are out of the finals after they lost to the Netherlands and Spain grabbed a late winner against Germany. Russia started brightly but were behind by the break and reduced to ten men after 50 minutes following Nikita Chicherin's dismissal.
Denis Cheryshev struck their first goal of the tournament, but they ended up well beaten. Despite this, Pisarev sees positive signs for the future. "I'm absolutely certain that everyone in this squad has a great future in football but we have to look at ourselves, analyse where we have gone wrong and improve," he said.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui made sure to praise both his strikers after Álvaro Morata came on in place of Rodrigo – the top scorer in qualifying – and scored a late winner for the second time in five days. "Rodrigo did a good job before that and Morata came on with the right attitude," he said. "We're delighted with both of them."
Spain's second Group B win secured their semi-final place but they will play the Netherlands in their last match needing a victory to take first place, given their opponents' superior goal difference. Yet the narrow manner of their victories is not a worry for Lopetegui – "the difficult thing is to create a lot of chances against a team like Germany" – who also spoke of his satisfaction with the contribution of wide man Cristian Tello. There was also a worthy gesture from the Spain players after the full-time whistle as they lifted up a shirt of injured team-mate Sergio Canales, who had his tournament cut short by injury.
There was little consoling the England squad on Sunday as they reflected on the defeat by Norway that means they will travel home after the final group stage game against Israel. Declan Rudd, Jason Steele, Nathan Delfouneso and Marvin Sordell attended a special event in Netanya showcasing the positive steps being taken by the Israel Football Association (IFA), with the help of the English Football Association (FA) and the New Israel Fund (NIF), to foster and encourage social responsibility and tolerance through football.
FA chairman David Bernstein said: "The focus on social progress and the values of tolerance and shared positive values are so important and everything we've seen today represents that. I'd like to congratulate the IFA and the NIF for everything that they're doing."
Israel recovered from their defeat at the hands of Italy with a warm-down session this morning followed by participation in an event to encourage social responsibility through football. "It is not only goals and results that count, but also victories off the field," declared Avraham Luzon, president of the IFA, at the start of the special event in Netanya. On the Maccabi Netanya FC training pitch that England have used as their base, youngsters from a cluster of programmes enjoyed the opportunity to play football with players from the England and Israel national teams.
Meanwhile, midfielder Omri Altman, who plays his club football in England with Fulham FC, is realistic about the possibility of Israel achieving the required result against Stuart Pearce's men, but is looking forward to what he describes as a "personal derby". The 18-year-old is yet to feature for Guy Luzon's side at the finals but has already called the tournament a "tremendous experience".
Through to the semi-finals with a game to spare, those Italy players involved in the big win against hosts Israel had a light workout in the swimming pool while the rest of the squad took part in a normal training session.
The only downside of Saturday's game was the injury suffered by Lorenzo Insigne, one of the Azzurrini's most sprightly performers in the tournament so far. The SSC Napoli midfielder was taken off on a stretcher and was taken to hospital but the good news is that he did not fracture his ankle and his condition will be monitored over the next few days.
Devis Mangia gave the squad the afternoon off and a group from the Italy delegation took the opportunity to visit Jerusalem.
The Norway squad relaxed after Saturday's win against England with an afternoon trip to a beach cafe in Herzliya where they attended a function hosted by the Norwegian embassy. There was good news on the injury front, as defender Fredrik Semb Berge, who limped off against England with a knock, should be fit for Tuesday's final group fixture against Italy.
Håvard Nordtveit, a late substitute against England after flying in from Tirana in the early hours of Saturday, says the squad are full of confidence. "Now we are a bit high after beating England – one year ago they were ranked No1 – but we need to come down to earth again and be prepared for the next game which will be hard," he said. Yet he sees no reason why they cannot go far here. "In 1998 we finished third. Nothing is impossible."