Fabian Ruiz and Dani Ceballos excelled as Spain secured a 2-1 win over Germany in the European Under-21 Championship final.
Germany beat a much-fancied Spain side in the showpiece two years ago but fell behind in the seventh minute to a wonderful long-range strike from Napoli star Fabian in Udine.
Spain captain Jesus Vallejo was fortunate to avoid a red card as Germany asserted themselves, but Dani Olmo netted a crucial second in the 69th minute.
Fabian and Carlos Soler almost added gloss to the scoreline and a late deflected effort from Nadiem Amiri could not deny Spain a fifth success in this competition – a triumph that moves them level with Italy on the all-time list.
Mikel Oyarzabal dropped deep from centre-forward to cleverly lay the ball off to Fabian, who still had plenty to do as he advanced and lashed a superb 25-yarder beyond Alexander Nubel.
Spain should probably have been down to 10 men when Vallejo was only booked for a knee-high lunge on Gian-Luca Waldschmidt.
But the Real Madrid defender stayed on and was on hand to boot Levin Oztunali’s shot away from his own goalmouth before half-time.View image on Twitter
Vallejo was in the right place at the right time again early in the second period when Spain goalkeeper Antonio Sivera spilled an Amiri shot and Waldschmidt attempted to pounce on the rebound.
Just as his team were being pushed back to a worrying degree, Ceballos brilliantly orchestrated Spain’s second.
Vallejo tackled, fairly on this occasion, to launch a counter-attack, which Ceballos skilfully kept alive for Fabian to unleash another firm strike. Nubel was unable to hold on and Olmo dinked in a cheeky finish on the follow-up.
From that point, Spain ran through their repertoire as Germany flagged – Fabian slotting just past the post and second-half substitute Soler hitting the crossbar before Amiri set up a grandstand finish two minutes from time.
What does it mean? Redemption for Spain’s class of 2017
Ceballos and his club team-mate Vallejo each started the 2017 final in Krakow, while Oyarzabal, Soler, Borja Mayoral, Mikel Merino and Jorge Mere were also part of the squad. For them, Sunday’s win is likely to feel particularly sweet.
Fab strike a worthy winner
The match-winning moment was part of a typically assured showing from Fabian, who also gamely threw himself into duels as Germany gained the ascendancy after the interval. Like the majority of his debut season in Serie A, these were exploits to burnish an already impressive reputation and he was named Player of the Tournament.
Vallejo lucky to lift trophy
Vallejo defended stoutly to protect Spain’s advantage but his tackle on Waldschmidt was ugly. The failure to upgrade his card to red on review was baffling and will surely irk Stefan Kuntz and his Germany side.
These youngsters will enjoy a well-earned break at the end of a long season. Transfer interest in the likes of Ceballos, who will have again impressed his reported admirers at Arsenal and Tottenham, is unlikely to be too far away.