Time for Mike Brazier from The Life Junkies to talk us through the last 48 hours in the European U21 tournament in Denmark.

The second round of fixtures kicked off with Switzerland taking on Iceland. After just scraping a 1-0 win over the Danes, Switzerland were looking to continue their push for the Semi’s while Iceland were under pressure after a poor 2-0 loss to Belarus.

Unfortunately for the Icelanders things got worse straight from the kick off when their defence was caught napping by a looping ball over the top that was struck beautifully into the net by Fabian Frei. The Icelandic defence didn’t learn from the early goal, letting too many balls go over their head and giving the Swiss too much room in and around their area.

The first half was all about Switzerland creating chance after chance it seemed that Iceland were riding their luck a little. It was more a question of when, rather than if, and with 5 minutes left of the first half that’s just what they did. Innocent Emeghara had been looking dangerous all match; latching onto a through ball he guided a left footed shot safely into the Icelandic net.

Iceland started the second half looking ready for a fight, with Kolbeinn Sigþórsson denied by a goal line clearance from Swiss scorer Frei. Iceland did find the net but Rúrik Gíslason’s goal was judged to be offside and it was right at the death before Iceland next looked like scoring, stopped only by brave keeping from Yann Sommer . This was a great all round display from Switzerland and it will take something special to take them down if they keep playing like this.

Switzerland’s win meant that if Belarus could defeat Denmark then they would be guaranteed to go through, with the last match against Switzerland deciding who would top the group. Belarus started this game much stronger than they did the opener, taking the Danes by surprise by putting themselves ahead in the 20th minute after Denmark’s defence were undone by through ball, leaving Dzmitry Baha to skip past the keeper and place the ball into the empty net. Denmark hit back straight away; Nicolai Jorgensen was taken down in the box, Christian Eriksen slotting home the rebound after missing the initial penalty.

For the rest of the first half Denmark were the stronger team, but still went into the break level. The second half continued in much the same vein with Eriksen finally waking up and producing some decent football. But it was Jorgensen, who created and scored Denmark’s second, with a great run and a delicious shot straight into the far right leaving Artem Gomelko with no chance. As the game was coming to a close Daniel Wass was taken out in the Belarus penalty area and should have earned Denmark their second penalty but referee Paolo Tagliavento waved away appeals, but the Danes held fast anyway to earn themselves a well-deserved win.

Moving on to Group B, with England and Spain drawing things were a little more complex. If the Czech Republic beat Spain they would qualify, if Ukraine lost they would be eliminated, but whatever happened, England and Spain would still be fighting for qualification. Spain and Czech Republic were first up in an interesting match-up. The Czechs led the group after beating Ukraine, whereas Spain came into this having not managed to win in four games.

For the most part Spain played much like they did against England, with a strong team display but never really looking like scoring, but that changed in the 25th minute when Juan Manuel Mata cut the Czech defence open with a ball that left Adrian Lopez to just slot the ball past the Czech keeper. The rest of the second half was basically Spain smothering the Czechs, controlling the game and dominating possession, doing everything apart from scoring a second.

The goal finally came and it was Mata and Adrian combing again for the same effect. Spain upped their game in the second half adding an edge to their play in the final third and even though they still only scored one, there was no hint of the complacency that cost them against England. This was a great all round performance in the second half and if Spain play like this for the rest of the tournament they will be nearly impossible to beat.

Once again England’s match closes my round-up. Two teams that were under pressure to improve after being generally out played in their openers. Firstly it seemed that it was a very anti-England crowd. They were quick to boo certain England players; Daniel Sturridge was being booed while on a great run down the right. While England looked better than they did against Spain, Ukraine were the team who looked likely to score with only luck and a determined Ryan Bertrand keeping the English sheet clean.

After being out played in the first half, England came out with more purpose for the second half but still just couldn’t find that ball to unlock a Ukraine defence that had a pretty good game. A few good saves from Anton Kanilbolotskiy stopped any efforts that leaked through the Ukraine defence. Daniel Sturridge had a man of the match performance in his natural right wing position but still couldn’t score or create for his team mates. One interesting note is that Kyle Walker was kept quite all game and was obviously a priority for the Ukraine defence after his stunning performance against Spain.

 

 

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1 comment

June 17th, 2011

I hope Denmark can get out of their group, I want to see more of Eriksen.

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