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England are in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals for the second successive tournament after second-half goals from Fraizer Campbell and James Milner saw off Spain in Gothenburg.
Stuart Pearce's side had seized the initiative in Group B by defeating Finland but initially struggled to get into their stride against a Spanish side showing plenty of physical commitment. Sergio Asenjo produced a brilliant save to keep out Milner's first-half penalty and Spain had the better of the match thereafter until the 67th minute when substitute Campbell took advantage of a defensive error to break the deadlock with an accomplished finish. Milner applied the finishing touch to a breakneck run from another replacement, Theo Walcott, six minutes later, to leave England needing a point in their final fixture against Germany to win the section.
Pearce made two changes to his starting lineup and one of the new faces, Adam Johnson, linked up promisingly with Milner for the latter to deliver a dangerous left-wing cross in the game's first significant action. Pearce's other alteration almost had an unwanted impact, Nedum Onuoha's careless back-pass forcing Joe Hart to scramble and kick away from his goalline. The goalkeeper's opposite number Asenjo was next into action, plucking Milner's left-wing cross off the head of Gabriel Agbonlahor and swiftly launching a counterattack which ended with Bojan Krkić shooting wide.
Asenjo was man of the match against Germany, and Spain again had cause to thank their custodian for an alert block at the feet of Micah Richards following a corner, although it looked as if he would finally be beaten in the 32nd minute when Milner won a penalty after cleverly turning Javi García. The Aston Villa FC winger took the kick himself, directing it towards the bottom corner but Asenjo reacted brilliantly, saving down to his right. The let-off preceded Spain's first attack of real menace, José Manuel Jurado and Bojan exchanging a series of intricate passes and the FC Barcelona striker curling just wide from the edge of the area.
Spain step up
England suffered another setback six minutes before the interval, Agbonlahor limping off with sore shins and Campbell taking his place at the head of the attack. With England still adjusting as the second half kicked off, Jurado twice had shots from distance and as play become more stretched the Iberian side upped the pace, Javi Martínez skipping round Hart and rolling the ball across the England goalmouth from a tight angle, Martin Cranie reacting quickest to clear.
The signs seemed to point to a Spanish breakthrough, but instead they were undone at the other end. Under pressure, Mario Suárez's pass towards Asenjo was intercepted by Campbell and the striker kept his cool to cut inside the last defender and drill a left-foot finish low past the keeper. Six minutes later the victory, and a semi-final place, was assured. Walcott had been introduced to stretch the tiring Spain defence and duly obliged, racing into the penalty area for Milner to supply an emphatic finish, meaning Spain must beat Finland on Monday and hope England defeat Germany.
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