KRAKOW: Southampton’s Nathan Redmond missed the crucial penalty as England agonisingly lost on penalties to Germany in the semi-finals of the under-21 European Championship in Poland on Tuesday.
Germany goalkeeper Julian Pollersbeck saved Redmond’s spot-kick to consign England to a 4-3 defeat in the shoot-out after the match had ended 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes and extra time.
They will face Spain in tomorrow’s final in Krakow after a brilliant second-half hat-trick from the Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez handed them a 3-1 win over 10-man Italy in the night’s other last-four tie.
Spain, coached by the former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder Albert Celades, are bidding to win the continental title in the age group for the fifth time and equal Italy’s record in the process.
Germany’s only previous triumph came in 2009 when they outclassed England in the final.
England have been accustomed to losing penalty shoot-outs to Germany in the past but they were hopeful of winning this encounter in 90 minutes as Aidy Boothroyd’s side sought to provide more success for the English after their recent triumph at the under-20 World Cup.
RB Leipzig striker Davie Selke gave Germany the lead in southern town Tychy but England turned the game around, Demarai Gray and Tammy Abraham scoring to leave them 2-1 up early in the second half.
However, a terrific header from substitute Felix Platte allowed Germany to force extra time, in which they were the better side.
Yannick Gerhardt missed from the spot for Germany, but Pollersbeck was to be the hero as he saved from Abraham and then from Redmond.
In Krakow, Saul opened the scoring in the 53rd minute and Italy were reduced to 10 men before the hour mark when Inter midfielder Roberto Gagliardini was sent off for a second yellow card.
Federico Bernardeschi equalised shortly after with a deflected effort against the run of play, but Saul soon restored Spain’s lead with a thunderous 30-yard strike that gave Gianluigi Donnarumma no chance.
Saul then swept in a Marco Asensio cutback to make it 3-1 and take him to five goals for the tournament. – AFP