UNDER-21 | SPAIN 0 - AUSTRIA 0 (1-1 agg.)
Spain go through on away goals
Albert Celades' team had numerous chances but found it impossible to find a way past Austria keeper Daniel Bachmann, who was the Man of the Match. Spain v Colombia
Spain's Under-21s booked their place at Euro 2017 Poland but suffered another agonizing night of nerves and uncertainty against Austria in this evening's Play Off return leg at the Carlos Belmonte in Albacete. Gerard Deulofeu's goal in Friday's first leg proved to be decisive. Not that Albert Celades' side didn't have their chances - the best of them came to nothing all because of goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann who was by far the best player on the pitch.
Penalty not given
Marco Asensio was told in the warm-up that he wouldn't be starting and that only reinforced the feeling that Spain would be looking to defend the 1-1 result from last week rather than add to it. Just like the first leg, it turned out to be a gritty, physical affair in which play was stopped a couple of times when tempers flared. Spain's players raised their hands in despair when referee Serdar Gözübüyük failed to blow for a penalty when Gayà's cross struck Philipp Mwene on the arm in the box. That was perhaps the only highlight of a grey first 45 minutes.
Chances for Mayoral and Deulofeu
The match livened up a little after the break. Borja Mayoral found himself with just Bachmann to beat after a mesmerizing quick passing move but skewed his shot wide. Deulofeu brilliantly darted past four Austria defenders before curling his shot just wide; he was denied later when clean through and attempting to skip past the keeper only for Bachmann to get a glove on the ball to take it out of reach. Mikel Merino then watched as his header from a corner skimmed the crossbar.
Even when Asensio finally came on for Óliver, Spain still looked like they were having a hard time. But perhaps it was always going to a night of suffering and learning. Joining them at the finals in Poland next year will be the victors of tonight's other Play Off, Serbia, who go thorugh on aggregate despite losing by the minimum in Norway. Both will be waiting to see in which group they land when the draw take place in Krakow on 1 December.
Follow the coverage match of World Cup 2018 qualifier : Spain vs Israel
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