Deulofeu i grimaldo amb la copa aconseguida / FOTO: www.uefa.com

It was only 15 days ago when Piqué, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc, Pedro, Valdés and Alba lifted the Euro Cup with the Spanish national team and this Sunday two more Azulgranas stepped into the limelight. Gerard Deulofeu and Àlex Grimaldo, two important players in Julen Lopetegui’s team, won the U19 European championship in Estonia after beating Greece in the final by 1 to 0. The play leading up to the go-ahead goal was orchestrated by Deulofeu, who was a nightmare for the Greek defence.

With this title, La Rojita’s sixth, Spain successfully defended the title won in Romania in 2011. Deulofeu, who was included in the all-star team in last year’s U19 Euro, has won his second continental title with the Spanish national team. This is Grimaldo’s, the youngest player named to the team by Lopetegui, first.

Spanish dominance

8,000 people sat in the stands for the final in Tallinn. The Spanish side took the initiative and dominated ball possession from the first minute. Grimaldo, playing in the left back position, and Deulofeu, who played on the left wing but was given the liberty to roam, played well with each other and they were active participants in the strategy laid out by Lopetegui. A double opportunity for Jesé and another chance for Paco Alcácer tested the Greek defence in the first minutes of the match but the scoreline didn’t move.

On 30 minutes, Deulofeu, who very active throughout the whole match, had the chance to score the first goal but the Azulgrana striker was unable to control the pass from Jesé. A couple of shots from outside the box from Oliver Torres closed out the first half where the Greeks only enjoyed one chance to take the lead through an attempt by Katidis.

Chances go unrewarded

Campaña sent the ball crashing to the woodwork 10 minutes into the second half. A couple of minutes later the Greek keeper denied Jesé and Grimaldo. Deulofeu, under the intense Estonian rain, had the Greek defence on the back foot, both on the left and the right side of the pitch, with a superb display of footwork, pace and technique.  

Decisive assist from Deulofeu

On 80 minutes, Deulofeu nabbed the ball on the right wing, dribbled through his opposition as he crossed to the center of the pitch and provided a beautiful vertical pass for the onrushing Jesé. The highest goal scorer of the tournament took advantage of the pass and one-timed his shot to the far post of the Greek goal. After the play, the Azulgrana, who was visibly exhausted, was subbed out.

Spain, despite missing Saúl Níguez and Manquillo, were very superior to a Greek team that couldn’t field their starting keeper Stefanos Kapino, who was ejected in the previous round.

MATCH STATS

Spain, 1
Greece, 0

Spain: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Joni, Jonás Ramalho, Derik Osede Alejandro Grimaldo, Oliver Torres, José Campaña, Suso (Denis Suárez, m.71), Jesé Rodríguez (Juan Bernat, m.91), Gerard Deulofeu (Juanmi, m.84) and Paco Alcácer.

Greece: Sokratis Dioudis, Nikos Marinakis, Dimitris Kourmpelis, Mavroudis Bougaidis, Kostas Stafylidis, Panagiotis Ballas, Spyros Fourlanos (Tasos Bakasetas, m.85), Giannis Gianniotas, Giorgos Katidis (Antreas Bouchalakis, m.90), Charis Mavrias and Dimitris Diamantakos (Charalambos Lykogiannis, m.67).

Goals: 1-0, m.80: Jesé Rodríguez.

Referee: Danny Makkelie (HOL).