U21 Euros: Germany to face England after narrow Italy defeat | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 24.06.2017
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U21 Euros: Germany to face England after narrow Italy defeat

Germany reach the semifinals of the Under 21 European Championship, but are denied top spot after Italy beat them. The defeat means best runners-up Germany will now face England, who topped Group A.

Italy 1-0 Germany
(Bernardeschi 31')

Federico Bernardeschi scored the only goal of the game to deny Germany top spot in Group C and set up a Germany vs. England semifinal on Tuesday.

Germany had been hoping to see off the Italians and secure a painless passage into the last four - but in the end Germany went through by the skin of their teeth.

Germany started the game the brighter of the sides and thought they'd gone ahead inside six minutes when captain Maximilian Arnold headed in, only for the goal to be ruled out after straying just offside.

With italy pinned back for much of the early stages, it seemed a matter of when - not if - Germany would make the breakthrough. But instead the goal came at the other end.

Moments after bending a freekick just wide, Bernardeschi struck. Seizing on a loose ball after the excellent Lorenzo Pellegrini cut out Mahmoud Dahoud's pass, Bernardeschi simply finished first time under the advancing Pollersbeck.

2017 UEFA-U21-Europameisterschaft Italien vs. Deutschland (Getty Images/S. Pond

Tempers flared after Italy took the lead, with Maximilian Arnold in the center of it.

Freiburg's Marc-Oliver Kempf and Mitchell Weiser of Hertha Berlin both went close in the second half as Germany went in pursuit of an equalizer, but it proved in vain as Italy showed that their next generation have the same aptitude for resolute defending as past generations.

In fact Italy went closest to scoring a second, which would have denied Germany of their status as the best runners-up. And Germany's relief was palpable when Atalanta's Andrea Conti could only put the ball wide after finding space at the far post.

Kaiserslautern's Pollersbeck played his part too, keeping the score to one with a fine save low to his right to deny Pellegrini.

The result means Germany sneak into the semifinals despite this defeat, but a marked improvement will be required if they are serious about reaching the final.