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A long-range effort from defender Andreas Beck saw off Italy as Germany set up a repeat of their Group B meeting with England in the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship final.
Rivals meet again
Beck struck three minutes into the second-half and the goal proved enough to settle the semi-final despite a late flurry of Italy chances. Germany return to the final for the first time since losing 5-4 to England over two legs in the 1982 showpiece and will meet their old rivals for the second time in the tournament after drawing 1-1 in their final group match. The only sour note for Germany is that Ashkan Dejagah will be suspended for the Malmo showpiece after being booked here.
Fans in Helsingborg had watched the drama in the other semi-final in Gothenburg unfold on giant screens, and if the atmosphere fell flat following Sweden's elimination by England, it soon picked up as Germany and Italy tore at each other from the outset. Benedikt Höwedes gave early warning of what was to come as he headed over then Dennis Aogo's low shot was tipped away by Andrea Consigli.
At the other end Sebastian Giovinco was soon making a nuisance of himself and Manuel Neuer somehow punched away his swerving shot and from the corner Neuer tipped Marco Motta's thumping header on to the bar. The Azzurrini captain soon went close again, his header saved on the line by Neuer before Robert Aquafresca's shot deflected to safety off the bar. Italy were the more penetrative and Mario Balotelli, back from suspension, sent a searing drive just over midway through the first half.
Both sides had been forced into changes in central midfield, with Italy coach Pierluigi Casiraghi bringing in Piermario Morosini and Antonio Candreva for the suspended Claudio Marchisio and injured Paolo De Ceglie. With Sami Khedira injured, Horst Hrubesch paired Gonzalo Castro with Aogo, but they were struggling to contain Giovinco's quickness of thought and feet. The Juventus player sent Acquafresca clear down the right and he squared for Antonio Candreva who stumbled with a clear sight of goal. On 39 minutes Giovinco picked out Luca Cigarini whose shot was bundled away by Neuer.
The half-time whistle could not come too soon for Germany, but they assumed command soon after the restart. There seemed little immediate danger as Beck pushed down the right, but his swerving low drive from 30 metres eluded Consigli and curled in at the far post. The goal knocked Italy off their stride and Germany began to assume control in midfield, restricting the Azzurrini to long shots. Not until 17 minutes from time did Italy really threaten, substitute Änis Ben-Hatira clearing Marco Andreolli's header off the line. Four minutes later Neuer dived to his right to punch away Balotelli's free-kick as the chances kept coming, Andreolli sending a header just wide. Germany, though, held on and go into the final having conceded just once in four matches.
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