Spain enjoyed a successful start to the defence of their UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in Haapsalu with goals from Real Madrid CF pair Jesé Rodríguez and Derik Osede helping them to a 2-1 win against Greece.
Kostas Tsanas’s side, shorn of the suspended Dimitris Kourmpelis and Kostas Stafylidis for their Group A opener, failed to concede a goal in elite round qualification but were two behind at the break here. Jesé netted a fine effort on the half-hour before club-mate Osede fired in from close range ten minutes later. Greece improved after the break and although rewarded with a strike from Dimitris Diamantakos, finished the encounter defeated.
After an evenly disputed opening, the five-time winners started to find their rhythm, with Gerard Deulofeu in particular threatening with pace and skill down the right. It was from such a run that Julen Lopetegui’s side scored their first, the FC Barcelona schemer racing goalwards and feeding Jesé, who took his time before slotting low past Stefanos Kapino from the left.
Spain won all three of their qualifiers to reach the finals in Estonia and they appeared on course for another triumph here when Osede pounced to smash in Saúl Ñiguez’s knock-down from Deulofeu’s corner. Greece rallied as they sought to avoid a repeat outcome of the teams’ meeting in the 2007 U19 final, which Spain won, and they should have reduced the arrears through Giorgos Katidis, but he shot wide having raced clear.
Buoyed, Tsanas’s team pushed further forward after the restart. Diamantakos fired narrowly wide from Charis Mavrias’s centre 20 minutes in but the Olympiacos FC striker made no mistake moments later when firmly striking past Kepa Arrizabalaga from inside the area. Spyros Fourlanos later drew a smart stop from the Spain No1 and Giannis Gianniotas struck narrowly wide as Greece chased for an equaliser to no avail.
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