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Saúl puts three past Donnarumma

Saúl puts three past Donnarumma

Three goals from an inspired Saúl which sees the U-21 side secure a place in Friday's final. It was a tricky tie and Celades' side came up against a solid, well drilled Italy team with a fine talent in Bernadeschi despite goalkeeper Donnarumma making the recent headlines and even been linked with a possible move to the Santiago Bernabeu. Three second half strikes from Saúl's sublime left foot put paid to any resistance the men in white could muster in Krakow. Two of his goals were a result of the players excellent timing and finishing, the other an unstoppable long range thunderbolt to cap an unforgettable night for the player in his short career.

Spain's Saul Niguez reacts after scoring a goal during the UEFA U-21 European Championship football semi final match Spain v Italy in Krakow, Poland on June 27, 2017.

Team performance

Saúl is a "box to box" type of player and exudes a unique maturity for such a young talent. Aged just 22, he has already developed an instinct for the game and in particular his positional sense is akin to that of a veteran. His link-up play in the centre of the park is the only area of improvement in one of the finest young talents I've seen in action for some time now and watching him reminds me of a young Luis Aragones of Javier Irureta. He was undoubtedly the man of the match but also worthy of a mention were Dani Ceballos, Asensio, Deulofeu, Sandro with Marcos Llorente excellent in his defensive capacity. It was a tough and hard-fought game but in the end the quality of the U-21 side shone through.

Spain's Dani Ceballos (r) and Italy's Davide Calabria vie for the ball during the UEFA U-21 European Championship football semi final match Spain v Italy in Krakow, Poland on June 27, 2017.

Italy with 10 men

There were, however spells in the first half where Spain struggled and failed to get into the rhythm of the match and there were certainly times in the first period where Italy looked the stronger side. The game was very much in the balance as the referee called time on the half. Real Betis player Ceballos found his stride in the second half as Italy became more physical with rash challenges ever increasing. In the end it wasn't to be Donnarumma's night as Saúl bagged his hat-trick as "La Rojita" march on to Friday's final in Krakow where the face Germany.