Monday, July 16, 2012


It took Spain 80 minutes to break down Greece in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final but Jese Rodriguez's late strike in Estonia on Sunday was enough to secure their sixth in the 11 years and their second in succession.

In the final for the third year in a row, La Rojita characteristically monopolised possession without breaking down their opponents.

Jose Campana's shot struck the crossbar to encapsulate their frustrations.

Julen Lopetegui's team finally made their pressure tell ten minutes from time as Rodriguez's calm finish gave them the trophy yet again in front of a crowd of almost 8,000 spectators – and ensured a repeat of their 2007 final defeat of Greece by the same scoreline.

The day had featured prolonged bursts of heavy rain in Tallinn and the slick surface suited Spain's sharp passing style. 

La Rojita duly settled the quicker, Rodriguez's angled strike bringing goalkeeper Sokratis Dioudis – in for the suspended Stefanos Kapino – into action in the second minute before Kostas Stafylidis kicked Gerard Deulofeu's shot off the line.

With a starting lineup including three players who appeared in the 2011 final – Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer and Campaña – Spain continued to press , with Dioudis making another smart stop from Rodriguez at his near post.

Deulofeu then freed Rodriguez down the right and raced into the box to meet the low return cross himself only to flick wide. 

Greece, however, had shown their voracious appetite for defensive duty in their semi-final win against England and served notice of a threat of their own shortly before the break.

Giannis Gianniotas got away from two defenders down the Greece left and picked out Giorgos Katidis with his cross, but the captain's looping header dropped wide.

Spain, though, picked up the pace again as the second half got under way, Campaña testing Dioudis with a swerving shot and then beating the goalkeeper from the edge of the area after a typically incisive passing move; only the crossbar came to Greece's rescue.

Moments later Dioudis was their saviour, blocking Rodriguez's low drive with his outstretched right foot and recovering instantly to palm away Alejandro Grimaldo's follow-up effort.

The goalkeeper was exposed again ten minutes from time, however, and this time there was no escape.

Deulofeu collected possession midway inside the Greece half and drew defenders to him before slipping a shot through to Rodriguez; the finish was unerring and Spain were champions again.

Courtesy of DAILYMAIL

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