Mitchell Weiser's first-half header proved decisive as Germany deservedly beat favorites Spain 1-0 in the Under-21 European Championship final in Krakow. It's Germany's first title at this level since 2009.
Germany 1 - 0 Spain
After a dominant first period, Stefan Kuntz's young side withstood a period of late Spanish pressure to follow in the footsteps of the Class of 2009, the German U21 title-winning team which included the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Mesut Özil.
Exactly 21 years to the day since winning the European Championship with Germany's senior side at Wembley in 1996, coach Kuntz made two changes to the side which overcame England on penalties in the semi-final. Hertha Berlin's Niklas Stark recovered from a back problem to replace Gideon Jung in defense while teammate Mitchell Weiser took the place of top-scorer Davie Selke who picked up a foot injury.
Despite early possession from an unchanged Spain team, Germany made a promising start, Weiser forcing a reflex save from Kepa Arrizabalaga before Schalke's Max Meyer glanced a skillful header onto the post. A long range effort from captain Maximilan Arnold and a Hector Bellerin header both went over the bar, before Gnabry failed to capitalize when the ball fell to him in the box.
The underdogs were creating chances but were clearly also well aware of the individual threat posed by such talents as Saul Niguez and Marco Asensio, tracking back in numbers whenever the tricky Spanish youngsters tried to break. However Kuntz will have been concerned by carelessness in possession, Marc-Oliver Kempf among the culprits, giving the ball away on the edge of his own box and allowing the dangerous Saul Niguez to get a shot away.
But the Germans were rewarded for their efforts five minutes before half-time. Jeremy Toljan's cross found Weiser at the front post and the Berlin man flicked a perfectly timed header over Arrizabalaga. The ball hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity before settling in the back of the Spanish net, and Germany had a thoroughly deserved half-time lead.
The second half began with a spate of German yellow cards as Spain moved the ball around, trying to build confidence in possession, but the only chance of note was a long-range Niguez effort which Pollersbeck was equal to. At the other end, Meyer found Gnabry with a perfect through ball but the former Bremen man couldn't beat Arrizabalaga and a huge chance went begging.
It was only a short respite as Spain piled on the pressure in the closing stages. First, Dani Ceballos left three Germans in his wake with a driving run through the middle but his shot went just wide, before Stark put his body in the way of Deulofeu's effort.
But despite the Champions League finalists and winners in their ranks, that was as close as Spain would come and Germany held on to win their first title at this age range since 2009.