Spain U-21s held by Germany
Spain and Germany battled out an entertaining goalless draw in their UEFA European Under-21 Championship opener at Gothenburg's Gamla Ullevi. The result leaves England top of Group B following their 2-1 triumph over Finland in the tournament curtain-raiser in Halmstad. Spain next face Stuart Pearce's England on Thursday, right after Germany take on Finland.
The first half tonight was a cagey affair, with Spain having the better of possession, but always vulnerable to the German counterattack. Spain's best chances fell to defenders Jose Chico and Marc Torrejon, the former kept out by the out-rushing Manuel Neuer and the latter thundering a header against the crossbar. Germany, too, were denied by the woodwork as Marko Marin's right-footed shot in first-half stoppage time skimmed the outside of the post.
The Spanish, in the main, were restricted to long-range efforts in the first 45 minutes. Schalke goalkeeper Neuer caught efforts from Raul Garcia and Esteban Granero in the opening five minutes, while Barcelona youngster Bojan Krkic fired wide from 25 yards.
Torrejon found himself unmarked from a corner just after the half-hour mark and produced a fine header which had the beating of Neuer, but not the bar.
Sergio Asenjo pulled off a fantastic save three minutes later to block a close-range effort from Mesut Ozil and keep Spain on level terms. Marin gave Asenjo another scare in stoppage time with an enterprising run from the left channel, but the Real Valladolid goalkeeper was saved by the post.
The second half continued in a similar fashion, but with the Germans mustering the more clear-cut of the chances. Ashkan Dejagah fired over five minutes after the restart and then Werder Bremen forward Ozil looked to capitalise on some poor defending. He found himself presented with a decent chance following a quick break, but his shot from a tight angle was somehow diverted over the bar by Asenjo for a corner.
Ozil made another opportunity for himself in the 81st minute and again found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but opted for the low shot and Asenjo got his body in the way. Substitute Anis Ben-Hatira almost won it for Germany in stoppage time with a smart turn and shot, but Asenjo was once again in the right place at the right time to ensure the game finished goalless.