Germany have been eliminated from the Under-21 European Championship after a 1-0 loss to Spain. It was a lackluster performance from the Germans, who looked inferior from start to finish.
Germany were unable to cope with the controlling Spanish midfield Sunday evening at the Netanya Stadium. Asier Illarramendi and company ran the show for 90 minutes and as a result, Germany hardly got a chance to challenge in the final third.
After an exciting 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands on Thursday, there was hope that Germany could put together a decent performance against Spain. But it wasn't to be, and instead the Germans will be heading home early from the tournament in Israel.
It was from the flanks where many of Spain's most-dangerous attacks originated. Isco and Tello – the latter of whom is rumored to be a transfer target for Schalke and Borussia Dortmund – consistently sent dangerous balls into the box.
On the defensive end, outside backs Alberto Moreno and Martin Montoya did well to shut down Patrick Herrmann and Christian Clemens. The two wingers were expected to be Germany's creative forces along with captain Lewis Holtby, but instead were non-factors in the attack.
Morata gets winner
After countless chances, it was the substitute Morata who broke the deadlock. Picking the ball up on the left wing, he turned Antonio Rüdiger and sprinted into the German box. After beating Rüdiger a second time, he fired a low shot that sneaked past goalkeeper Bernd Leno at the near post in the 86th minute.
Although there was a further seven minutes to play after the goal, few expected to see an equalizer. A Rüdiger header briefly made life difficult for Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea after a free kick in extra time, but that was as close as Germany got to keeping their tournament hopes alive.
Sunday's loss, combined with the defeat to the Netherlands, leaves Germany with zero points after two games. The Germans cannot progress to the knockout stage. However, they still have one match to play. They take on Russia Wednesday in what will be a final consolation match.
Early elimination is a disappointing result for Germany, who just four years prior were tournament champions.