European Under-21 Championship: Spain and Italy join Netherlands and Germany in quarter-finals

By Sports Desk March 30, 2021

Spain and Italy have joined fellow heavyweights Netherlands and Germany in the European Under-21 Championship quarter-finals.

All four sides picked up the results they required in Tuesday's final round of fixtures in Groups A and B to advance through to the knockout stages later this year.

Germany were pushed all the way by Romania in one of the early kick-offs, a goalless draw in Budapest enough to send the 2019 runners-up through on goal difference at Romania's expense.

Romania, now unbeaten in their last seven group matches in the competition, hit the post through Alexandru Matan in the first half and had a shot blocked on the line.

But a point apiece was just about the right outcome in the end as Amos Pieper was also denied by the frame of the goal in the second half and Lukas Nmecha missed a penalty.

The Netherlands had far less trouble seeing off tournament joint-hosts Hungary as they ran out 6-1 winners at MOL Arena Sosto to pip Germany to top spot in Group A by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.

Dani de Wit opened the scoring three minutes before half-time and Cody Gakpo, who set up that goal, scored two of the Netherlands' five second-half goals

Myron Boadu was also on target from the penalty spot for the Netherlands, before Sven Botman and substitute Brian Brobbey got in on the act late on, rendering Bendeguz Bolla's own spot-kick little more than a consolation. 

Holders Spain had a couple of second-half Dani Gomez goals to thank for their 2-0 win over the Czech Republic, who required a victory in Celje to keep their tournament participation alive.

The Levante forward was brought on with 65 minutes played and did not take long to do what his team-mates could not in breaking down a stubborn Czech side after being teed up by Ander Barrenetxea.

Gomez volleyed in a second nine minutes later and that proved enough to seal first place in Group B, despite an emphatic 4-0 win for Italy in their meeting with Slovenia at Stadion Ljudski vrt.

Record five-time winners Italy were two goals ahead inside 19 minutes via clinical finishes from Giulio Maggiore and Giacomo Raspadori, which Patrick Cutrone added to from the penalty spot six minutes later.

Cutrone missed a second spot-kick on the verge of half-time, though it ultimately mattered little as he bagged an impressive second five minutes into the second period.

The only negative for Italy was substitute Riccardo Marchizza's late dismissal after receiving two yellow cards - the centre-back's second sending-off in this year's tournament.

Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands will discover their quarter-final opponents on Wednesday when the final round of group fixtures take place, with the knockout stages to begin in late May.

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