Lukas Nmecha was the hero as Germany beat Portugal to win the European U21 Championship on Sunday. - © IMAGO / Sven Simon
Lukas Nmecha was the hero as Germany beat Portugal to win the European U21 Championship on Sunday. - © IMAGO / Sven Simon
bundesliga

Germany beat Portugal to win European U21 Championship

Germany have been crowned European U21 champions for a third time after Lukas Nmecha scored the only goal in Sunday's final.

Germany 1-0 Portugal

Goals: 1-0 Nmecha (49’)

Stefan Kuntz's side started the game slowly in Slovenia, with Tiago Tomas firing wide and Diogo Dalot having a shot blocked by Arminia Bielefeld defender Amos Pieper. Florian Wirtz, who got both Germany's goals in their 2-1 semi-final win over the Netherlands, then came agonisingly close when his deflected strike came off the bar. With Wirtz, Ridle Baku and Arne Maier all influential, Germany dominated from the 15th minute of the first half, with Nmecha seeing his dinked effort well saved by Portugal keeper Diogo Costa after being played in by the rampaging Baku. Wolfsburg's Baku - playing as an extremely attacking right-back - then shot wide from distance before Hertha Berlin midfielder Maier saw his fierce hit from range clawed out of the top corner by Costa. Germany were almost undone in first-half stoppage-time when Vitinha broke clear but he couldn't get a shot away.

Germany started well in the second half and got their reward just four minutes in when Baku played in Nmecha to score. The striker, who spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Belgian side Anderlecht from Manchester City, showed sharp footwork to shift the ball around Costa and prod it home from close range. A talented Portugal side were always going to have their moments, but Germany defended resolutely to ensure that the workload of Mainz keeper Finn Dahmen was minimal. And as the Portuguese took more risks the longer the game went on, Germany got opportunities on the counter. Substitute Karim Adeyemi got in only to be denied by Porto keeper Costa, while Nmecha's powerful attempt from outside the area was tipped over the top. Salzburg attacker Adeyemi was thwarted by Costa once more but one goal was all Germany needed to win this competition for the second time in the last three editions.

Match stats

  • Germany have appeared in the last three UEFA Euro U21 finals, winning this year and in 2017. They also won the competition in 2009, when a team featuring future FIFA World Cup winners Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Höwedes, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil hammered England 4-0 in the decider.
  • Nmecha, who previously represented England at youth level, scored four goals in six games to finish as the top scorer in the finals as Germany went unbeaten from the group stage until they were confirmed as champions.
  • Former Wolfsburg loanee Nmecha was used as a substitute in Germany's 2-1 final defeat by Spain two years ago at the 2019 edition of this competition.
  • Baku, who was capped by the German senior team in November 2020, made goals in both the semi-final and the final.
  • Former Germany striker Kuntz, who won UEFA Euro 1996 as a player, was also head coach of the U21 team when they beat Spain 1-0 in the 2017 final in Poland.
  • Portugal, who had won their last five U21 matches against Germany, have appeared in three finals at this level but lost them all.

Line-ups

Germany: Dahmen – Baku, Pieper, Schlotterbeck, Raum – Maier, Dorsch (Janelt 85’), Özcan (Stach 90+2) – Wirtz (Adeyemi 67’), Nmecha (Jakobs 85’), Berisha (Burkardt 67’)
Unused subs: Schubert, Vagnoman, Jaeckel, Appelkamp, Mai, Klimowicz, Grill
Coach: Stefan Kuntz

Portugal: Costa - Dalot, Queiros, Leite, Conte (Ramos 86') - Vitinha (Jota 59'), Luis (Gedson Fernandes 83'), Vieira, Braganca - Tomas (Conceicao 59'), Mota (Leao HT)
Unused subs: Maximiano, Tavares, Pereira, Djalo, Baro, Soares, Virginia
Coach: Rui Jorge