KEIR RADNEDGE in NETANYA: Germany beat Russia 2-1 here tonight in the UEFA European Under-21 finals but victory was not enough to rescue German football from the hangover which has followed the Wembley party.
Both Germans and Russians packed their bags and headed for home with Spain and Holland, instead, progressing to the semi-finals from Group B. Spain beat the Dutch 3-0 in a clash between two deliberately-weakened teams in Petah Tikva.
Hence Spain topped the table with a 100pc record of nine points followed by Holland on six, Germany three and Russia none. In the semi-finals Spain play Norway while Holland face Italy on Saturday.
Germany’s failure to match all the hyperbole about their youth system and national team focus – built upon the Champions League exploits of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – was not only a matter of this particular experience in Israel.
Qualifying failure had marked both younger sides in the European under-17 and under-19 tournaments.
They even went behind in Netanya when comically poor defending handed an opening 21st-minute goal on a plate to highly-rated Russian striker Alan Dzagoev. But poor covering at the other end allowed Patrick Herrmann to level in the 34th minute before Russia had leftback Georgi Schennikov sent off for felling raiding rightback Tony Jantschke.
Germany struggled to capitalise on their numerical advantage and it took a penalty from Sebastian Rudy in the 67th-minute to edge them ahead.
In the last minute Fedor Smolov thundered a drive against a German post but the ball ricocheted back into play. Like England, they had nothing to show for their efforts here.