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Saúl hits the front in Golden Boot race

Saúl Ñíguez's three goals against Italy have thrust the Spain striker to the top of the U21 EURO's adidas Golden Boot rankings, with team-mate Marco Asensio his closest rival.

Saúl Ñíguez with the match ball after Tuesday's semi-final
Saúl Ñíguez with the match ball after Tuesday's semi-final ©Getty Images

Saúl Ñíguez's semi-final hat-trick against Italy has propelled him to the top of the rankings in the hunt for the U21 EURO adidas Golden Boot.

U21 EURO top scorers
5 – Saúl Ñíguez (Spain)
3 – Marco Asensio (Spain), Bruma (Portugal)
2 – Enis Bardi (FYR Macedonia), Federico Bernardeschi (Italy), Martin Chrien (Slovakia), Demarai Gray (England), Davie Selke (Germany), Kenneth Zohore (Denmark)

Having scored twice in as many group stage outings, Saúl became the second Spanish hat-trick scorer of the finals, hitting three in the space of 22 minutes in Krakow. The Atlético Madrid man will return to the stadium on Friday for the final against Germany.

Asensio and other U21 hat-trick heroes

Asensio, the other Spanish hat-trick man, and Germany's Davie Selke (who struck his second of the finals against England) are Saúl's only realistic challengers for the adidas Golden Boot.

Saúl, meanwhile, has another target to aim for: if he scores another treble he will break Marcus Berg's eight-year-old U21 finals record of seven goals.

Past top scorers
2015 – Jan Kliment, Czech Republic (3)
2013 – Álvaro Morata, Spain (4)

2011 – Adrián López, Spain (5)
2009 – Marcus Berg, Sweden (7)
2007 – Maceo Rigters, Netherlands (4)
2006 – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Netherlands (4)
2004 – Alberto Gilardino, Italy (4)
2002 – Massimo Maccarone, Italy (3)
2000 – Andrea Pirlo, Italy (3)

While goals scored will always be the first criterion in deciding the leading marksman, further criteria will be used to separate players with the same goal tallies – firstly assists, then minutes played (with the player boasting the better goals-to-minutes-on-the-pitch ratio taking precedence).

Full details about the adidas Golden Boot award available here.

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