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U-19 Euro

Ruthless Spain destroy Greece and cruise into the semis

The loudest cheer coming from the stands probably came from the family of Betis Sevilla left winger Assane Diao, who sat just a few meters from the Spain bench at the Gozo Stadium. This was a festival of goals and, strike after strike, the section filled with fans clad in red was bouncing with joy as Spain oversaw a feast on the Gozo Island with a clinical 5-0 victory over Greece.

INTENSE START Spain didn’t even need time to settle. Right from the blast of the referee’s whistle, they set out to take care of business. Against the run of play, though, it was Greece who recorded the first shot on target, with Stefanos Tzimas and Lmpros Smyrlis combining beautifully in a counter-attacking move, before the former released the latter to hit a fierce left-footed shot which was punched away by goalkeeper Bruno Iribane.

But that was as good as Greece got before the Spanish onslaught began. Jose Lana’s side completely dominated the game, running circles around their opponents, before putting them to the sword. For all of Greece’s lethargy, the signs of a thrashing were on the wall as early as the third minute when Akomach was allowed the time and space to take a solo run into the box and fire a feeble shot into the waiting arms of Botis.

THE DECISIVE MOMENT Greece, though, will not be second time lucky. In the 10th minute, Spain finally opened the score following a brilliant run by Gonzalo on the right flank, who cut back for Victor Barbera to tap the ball home.

This routine seemed to have been Spain’s match-winning game plan and they would repeat the same move again and again for much of the game. Greece’s left side of defense was leaking like a punctured roof and Spain took full advantage, thanks to the marauding runs of right-back Fresneda and his partner in crime Gonzalo, who played just in front of him on the right wing.

It would take just three minutes after the opening goal for La Rojita to increase their lead, this time Manuel Angel applying a smart finish from close range following another cross from the right that Greece failed to deal with. Lana and his side were criticized for not being ruthless enough when they faced Iceland in their opening game. Here, though, in front of a largely partisan Spanish crowd, they showed no mercy, and they would go into the half-time break with a comfortable 4-0 lead after further goals from Cesar Palacios and Barbera.

Spain may have taken their foot off the gas a bit in the second half, but Greece never came to the party and were largely passive, unable to reproduce the second-half masterclass that saw them come from 5-0 to make it 5-4 against Norway three days ago at the Centenary Stadium.

By the time Arnau Casas added a fifth goal with a towering header on the hour mark, Greece were already dead and buried. The result puts Spain in a strong position to finish top of Group B, considering their superior goal difference too. La Rojita needed to make a statement after their unimpressive opening-day win against Iceland and they responded perfectly by taking down Greece in the most ruthless manner possible.

Credit: AIPS Media 

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