Spain beat Switzerland to win Euro Under-21 Championship

By Jonathan StevensonBBC Sport
Spain celebrate winning the European Under-21 Championship
Spain's victorious Under-21 side celebrates with the trophy in Aarhus, Denmark

Spain won the European Under-21 Championship courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Switzerland in Denmark.

The Swiss went close when Xherdan Shaqiri's volley stung the palms of David de Gea, but Ander Herrera headed in Didac Vila's cross to make it 1-0.

Pajtim Kasami and Timm Klose both glanced headers narrowly wide as Spain clung on to their lead after the break.

But a sensational 40-yard free-kick from Thiago Alcantara nine minutes from time sealed it for the Spanish.

It was exactly what Luis Milla's team deserved - they were easily the tournament's outstanding side and they outplayed Switzerland for long spells in Aarhus on Saturday.

In Javi Martinez they had the game's most impressive player, and with Thiago and World Cup winner Juan Mata joining him in midfield it was at times like watching the Spanish senior side, such was their dominance.

They started in impressive fashion at the Aarhus Stadium, though for all their pretty approach play they failed to significantly test Swiss keeper Yann Sommer in the early stages.

It was the lively Shaqiri, who scored in a Euro 2012 qualifier against England in September, who almost opened the scoring when he turned smartly inside the Spanish box and hammered in a shot that De Gea - rumoured to be on his way to Manchester United - parried away.

Thiago shot wide from 18 yards in response before Spain took a deserved lead four minutes before the break, a lovely move ending with Didac's glorious cross from the left and little Herrera's thumping downward header.

With a lead to hold on to, Spain's monopoly in possession increased, but - much like in their opening Group B game when England equalised late on - they struggled to find a crucial second goal.

The Swiss laboured for half an hour in the second half, but twice in two minutes they had golden chances to level from set-pieces, as first Kasami nodded wide and then Klose saw his effort fly inches wide of De Gea's right-hand post.

They were left to rue their profligacy when the alert Thiago took a quick free-kick, brilliantly spotting Sommer off his line and drilling a 40-yard shot over the keeper and into the Switzerland net.

Martinez jubilantly lifted the cup as Spain - already World Cup and European Championship winners at senior level - added another trophy to their burgeoning collection.

Spain U21: De Gea, Montoya, Botia, Dominguez, Didac, Javi Martinez, Mata, Thiago, Ander (Diego Capel 90), Muniain (Parejo 85), Adrian (Jeffren 80).

Subs Not Used: Mino, Marino, Azpilicueta, San Jose, Bojan, Nsue, Jose Angel, Victor Ruiz, Ruben Perez.

Booked: Javi Martinez, De Gea.

Goals: Ander 41,Thiago 81.

Switzerland U21: Sommer, Koch, Klose, Rossini, Berardi, Shaqiri, Xhaka (Kasami 67), Lustenberger, Frei (Abrashi 53), Emeghara (Gavranovic 53), Mehmedi.

Subs Not Used: Fickentscher, Siegrist, Daprela, Costanzo, Ben Khalifa, Feltscher, Pavlovic, Hochstrasser.

Booked: Lustenberger, Berardi.

Att: 19,444.

Ref: Paolo Tagliavento (Italy).