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Spain 5-1 Ukraine: Five-time champions into final after convincing win

Spain came from behind to beat Ukraine in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals and set up a Saturday decider with England.

Highlights: Spain 5-1 Ukraine

Spain survived a scare to comfortably make their way into a ninth UEFA European Under-21 Championship final with victory against Ukraine.

Key moments

13' Bondarenko opens scoring for Ukraine
Abel Ruiz gets swift equaliser
Sancet puts Spain in front
Blanco gives La Rojita two-goal cushion
68' Aimar Oroz on target
78' Sergio Gómez gets Spain's fifth

Artem Bondarenko put Ukraine in front but Abel Ruiz and Oihan Sancet had Spain ahead before the interval, with Antonio Blanco, substitute Aimar Oroz and Sergio Gómez adding to the scoreline in the second half. Spain meet England in Batumi on Saturday, while Ukraine have the consolation of a place at the 2024 Olympic men's football tournament.

Watch highlights

Match in brief: Spain soar after early setback

With Dmytro Kryskiv supended following Ukraine's quarter-final defeat of France, Ruslan Rotan brought in Danylo Sikan, whose 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup-winning team-mate Oleksiy Kashchuk made way for Oleksandr Nazarenko, Player of the Match when these teams drew 2-2 in the group stage. Spain were unchanged from their extra-time victory against Switzerland and seemed to be on top early on, Álex Baena going close in the 12th minute.

It was Ukraine who struck first, however, as Mykhailo Mudryk raced on to a ball down the left, got around Victor Gómez and cut back for Bondarenko to turn in. Spain responded superbly, Abel Ruiz connecting with Victor Gómez's through ball, working his way around goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin and shooting past the covering Maksym Talovierov.

Abel Ruiz made it 1-1
Abel Ruiz made it 1-1UEFA via Sportsfile

Sancet gave Spain the lead seven minutes later, his fizzing low shot from just outside the box taking a crucial deflection off Arsenii Batahov to wrong-foot Trubin. Ukraine did not let their heads drop and just before half-time, Spain keeper Arnau Tenas did brilliantly to produce a double save from first Sikan, then Nazarenko, after more smart work from Mudryk.

As it happened: Spain 5-1 Ukraine

However, nine minutes into the second half Blanco made it 3-1, pouncing on a loose ball and striking in after Abel Ruiz's rabona cross was not cleared. Aimar Oroz, who was brought on as a second-half substitute for Sancet, curled in a superb fourth for Spain before Sergio Gómez got his third of the finals to complete the scoring, moving him level with Abel Ruiz and Georgiy Sudakov in the Top Scorer charts.

Player of the Match: Abel Ruiz (Spain)

Spain's Abel Ruiz with the Player of the Match trophy
Spain's Abel Ruiz with the Player of the Match trophyUEFA via Getty Images

"He worked really hard running behind the defence and linking up with his team-mates. Scored his team's first goal, assisted and was heavily involved in other goals. He was also excellent in transitions."
UEFA Technical Observer panel

Simon Hart, match reporter

Spain responded to falling behind with their best display of the tournament. If Mudryk's dribbling illuminated the first period, Spain had the lead by the interval with the help of an inspirational display by captain Abel Ruiz, who began the turnaround and played a key role throughout with typically good link-up play.

Sergio Gómez excelled too, switching flanks in the second half and completing the scoring with a goal that leaves him and Abel Ruiz as joint-top scorers along with Sudakov. As for Ukraine, they will rue the defensive errors committed against opponents now just one step away from 'la Sexta' – their sixth U21 title.

Artem Bondarenko briefly gave Ukraine the lead
Artem Bondarenko briefly gave Ukraine the leadAFP via Getty Images


Santi Denia, Spain coach: "This team believe. They believe in our idea of play – in having the ball, playing the ball from the back, speeding it up, working for each other, arriving from deep. They keep believing, keep getting stronger."

Abel Ruiz, Player of the Match: "We played a great game, the best game we’ve had in this tournament. I want to congratulate everyone – everyone did a great job, from the 11 starters to the five subs who came on."

Oihan Sancet, Spain midfielder: "They scored very early, which we weren’t expecting, but we were able to react very well to the goal and turned it around quickly, and from there played a great game."

Spain celebrate after the final whistle
Spain celebrate after the final whistleUEFA via Getty Images

Key stats

  • Spain are in their ninth final, two more than the next best tally (seven by Italy), and aim to go one better than the mark of five titles they share with the Azzurrini.
  • Spain have equalled Italy's record of 11 semi-finals and 12 top-four finishes (there was no semi-final round in 2000).
  • Abel Ruiz got the last-minute equaliser when Spain drew 2-2 with Ukraine at Giulesti Stadium to finish top of Group B.
  • Sancet, scorer of Spain's second goal, is the only La Rojita player to start all five games in their finals campaign.
  • Spain, like England, have equalled the record of seven different players scoring in the U21 EURO finals (not counting own goals).
  • Spain's fifth goal was their 50th of the campaign, including qualifying.
  • Spain equalled the record of five goals in a semi-final, following in the footsteps of Portugal (5-0 Germany in 2015) and West Germany (5-0 Soviet Union in the 1982 second leg).

Under-21 EURO final

Spain will face England in the final at Batumi Arena on Sunday. Kick-off is at 18:00 CET (20:00 local time).


Spain: Tenas; Victor Gómez, Paredes, Pacheco, Miranda; Blanco (Bernabé 75), Álex Baena (Veiga 75); Sancet (Aimar Oroz 59); Rodri (Barrenetxea 59), Abel Ruiz, Sergio Gómez

Ukraine: Trubin; Sych, Batahov, Talovierov, Vivcharenko (Braharu 61); Brazhko (Zhelizko 61), Bondarenko (Ocheretko 76); Nazarenko (Kashchuk 46), Sudakov, Mudryk; Sikan (Vanat 61)

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