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Spain vs Ukraine facts

Previous meetings, form guides, links and trivia ahead of the 2023 EURO U21 semi-final.

The teams shared four goals in their last Group B outing
The teams shared four goals in their last Group B outing

Eight days after meeting on Matchday 3 of Group B, Spain and Ukraine cross paths again at the Steaua Stadium in Bucharest in the second semi-final of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Semi-finalists for the fourth tournament in a row, Spain have equalled Italy's record of 12 top-four U21 EURO finishes and are making their 11th semi-final appearance, fewer only than Italy. Ukraine, meanwhile, are in the last four for only the second time and the first in 17 years.

A 90th-minute Abel Ruiz goal earned Spain a 2-2 draw against Ukraine on 27 June – a result that ensured they topped Group C on goal difference at their opponents' expense.

Previous meetings

The sides were level on six points in Group C after of their contest at the Giulesti Stadium, also in Bucharest, with Ukraine needing a win to overhaul Spain for first place in the section. Bohdan Viunnyk gave Ukraine a 43rd-minute lead but Ivan Zhelizko's own goal levelled four minutes into the second period. Georgiy Sudakov restored Ukraine's advantage from the penalty spot nine minutes from time after substitute goalkeeper Leo Román was adjudged to have fouled Danylo Sikan, but another Spain replacement Ruiz replied again in the final minute to give his side the point they needed.

Juan Mata (10, 72pen) scored twice in the sides' most recent meeting prior to these finals, a 3-0 Spain win on Matchday 3 of the 2011 finals that remains Ukraine's joint heaviest U21 finals defeat. Adrián López (27) got the other goal as Spain secured first place in Group B and eliminated Ukraine, who finished bottom of the section on one point; Spain went on to beat Belarus 3-1 after extra time in the semi-finals and Switzerland 2-0 in the final.

The teams' only other European U21 Championship fixtures had come in qualifying for the 2004 finals when Valdo and Rubén scored as Spain won the home fixture 2-0 in Murcia on 9 September 2003 after a goalless draw in Kyiv six months earlier, where Rubén was sent off.

They first crossed paths in a friendly in Alcúdia on 21 August 1993, Ukraine recording a 2-1 away win.

Sikan scored Ukraine's goal in a 1-1 draw against Spain in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round in March 2018. Anatoliy Trubin and Mykhailo Mudryk also represented Ukraine, with Arnau Tenas and substitutes Álex Baena and Sergio Camello featuring for Spain.

Ruslan Neshcheret, Kostiantyn Vivcharenko, Viunnyk, Sudakov, Arsenii Batahov and substitute Vladyslav Vanat were all in the Ukraine team that lost 1-0 to Spain in the U17 elite round in March 2019.

Form guide


This is Spain's fourth successive semi-final, and a sixth in the last seven editions of U21 EURO.

Overall Spain are in the semi-finals for the 11th time. Their record is W8 L2:
1984 Yugoslavia W 3-0 aggregate (1-0 a, 2-0 h)
1986 Hungary W 5-4 aggregate (1-3 a, 4-1 aet h)
1994 Portugal L 0-2
1996 Scotland W 2-1
1998 Norway W 1-0 aet
2011 Belarus W 3-1 aet
2013 Norway W 3-0
2017 Italy W 3-1
2019 France W 4-1
2021 Portugal L 0-1

Spain's 2021 defeat by neighbours Portugal ended a run of six straight last-four wins. Indeed, Portugal are the only nation to have beaten them in the U21 EURO semi-finals, having also done so in 1994.

The joint most successful side in European U21 Championship history with five titles, level with Italy, Spain are in the final tournament for the 11th time overall and the seventh in eight editions, failing to qualify only in 2015 during that sequence.

La Rojita have been champions in three of the last six tournaments – 2011, 2013 and 2019. They have not failed to progress from their group since 2009.

Two years ago, a team coached by Luis de la Fuente took seven points to finish top of Group B ahead of Italy before seeing off Croatia in the quarter-finals, only to lose to Portugal in the last four.

Spain won all eight of their qualifying fixtures for the 2023 finals, finishing nine points clear of runners-up Slovakia in Group C. They scored 37 goals and conceded only five. Abel Ruiz was the team's leading individual marksman with seven goals.

On 8 December 2022 De La Fuente was appointed coach of Spain's senior side following Luis Enrique's departure after the FIFA World Cup and replaced by Santi Denia.

Santi's side kicked off the finals with a 3-0 win against co-hosts Romania before Ruiz scored after only 20 seconds – the fastest goal in U21 EURO finals history – to see off Croatia 1-0 on Matchday 2. That sealed progress, although it needed that 90th-minute Ruiz strike to salvage a 2-2 draw against Ukraine in their concluding Group B game and prevent their opponents taking first place at their expense.

Spain have already won European titles under Santi at Under-17 level in 2017 and U19 level in 2019.

Spain have now made it out of their group at their last six finals appearances (2011, 2013, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2023), a competition record.

For the second tournament running Spain took the lead in their quarter-final – this time through Sergio Gómez in the 68th minute – only to concede an added-time equaliser, Switzerland levelling in the 91st minute, before eventually prevailing 2-1, Juan Miranda with the winner in the 103rd minute.

Ruiz, Gómez and Miranda were among the ten players on two goals after the quarter-finals, one behind top scorer Sudakov of Ukraine.


Ukraine won their only previous U21 EURO semi-final:
2006 Serbia and Montenegro W 0-0 aet, 5-4 pens

Ukraine are the 18th country to reach multiple U21 semi-finals.

Ukraine are making only their second appearance in the knockout rounds.

This is Ukraine's third finals appearance and a first since 2011, when they finished bottom of Group B having failed to win a game (D1 L2).

Five years earlier they had reached the final on debut, winning their group and beating Serbia and Montenegro 5-4 on penalties after a goalless draw in the semi-finals before a 3-0 defeat in the final against a Netherlands side Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko's team had beaten 2-1 on Matchday 1.

Ukraine were third in their qualifying section for the 2021 tournament, behind Denmark and Romania.

This time round, Ruslan Rotan's side qualified with a play-off victory against Slovakia (2-3 a, 3-0 h), Sikan scoring a second-leg hat-trick.

Ukraine had finished second in Group H on 23 points, three behind France. They won seven of their ten matches and lost only one, albeit their heaviest ever qualifying defeat – 5-0 away to the section winners.

Dmytro Kryskiv, who scored in the first-leg loss in Slovakia, was Ukraine's top scorer in qualifying with four goals.

At the final tournament, Ukraine beat Croatia (2-0) and co-hosts Romania (1-0) to seal progress from Group B with a game to spare. Level with Spain on six points, a Matchday 3 win would have given Ukraine first place in the section and Sudakov's 81st-minute penalty put them on course only for Spain to salvage a 2-2 draw in the final minute.

Sudakov also struck twice in the last eight as Rotan's side came from behind to beat France 3-1 in the final quarter-final, the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder scoring in the 32nd minute – a penalty – and in the 44th before captain Artem Bondarenko chipped in a clinching third four minutes from time.

The defeats of Croatia and Romania were the first time Ukraine had won successive U21 EURO final tournament matches, excluding victories via penalty shoot-outs.

Sudakov was the finals' top scorer after the quarter-finals on three goals.

Links and trivia

Sudakov and Viunnyk made their Shakhtar Donetsk debuts as late substitutes in a 3-2 win at Real Madrid on Matchday 1 of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.

That victory on 21 October 2020 was also Anatoliy Trubin's first appearance in UEFA club competition while fellow goalkeeper Neshcheret made his UEFA Champions League debut for Dynamo Kyiv in a 2–1 defeat at Barcelona on 4 November 2020.