The Germany U21 national team remain in contention for a third European championship title after finishing second in Group A with a 0-0 draw against Romania. With the Netherlands winning their game against Hungary comprehensively (6-1 FT), Germany knew that defeat against Romania would mean elimination from the tournament. Despite this, Stefan Kuntz’s men pressed for a winner, which would have seen them top the group. And there was no shortage of chances either, with Lukas Nmecha passing up the biggest of the game from the penalty spot (72’). In the end, Germany would have deserved to win the game, and most definitely deserved to progress to the knockouts.
Romania started the game in Budapest’s Bozsik Aréna energetically and despite Germany’s possession dominance, the first major chance of the game fell to the team in yellow. Alexandru Matan had Finn Dahmen beaten but watched his shot bounce across goal and away via the inside of the post (5’).
Kuntz had made two changes to Saturday’s starting XI against the Netherlands. 1. FC Köln duo Ismail Jakobs and Salih Özcan were replaced by David Raum and Mateo Klimowicz. After 15 minutes or so, the Germans began to turn their possession into attacking football and before long the chances started to fall. Mergim Berisha played a wonderful through ball into the path of Klimowicz, who chipped the ball over the goalkeeper but was denied the opener by a Romanian defender who cleared off the line (24’).
Just before half time, Germany passed up another major goalscoring opportunity. This time Josha Vagnoman and Ridle Baku combined and cut the ball across goal for Berisha who couldn’t quite get his finish right and give Germany what would have been a deserved lead at the break, despite a strong display from Romania (42’).
Romania came out of the half-time break stronger and dictated proceedings for the first 25 minutes. Dahmen’s goal remained unthreatened, but with the Netherlands cruising past Hungary in the parallel game, tension was rising for the Germans. After Berisha’s free-kick was blocked by a Romanian hand in the penalty area, Lukas Nmecha had the chance to take the pressure off with his third goal in three games. But the Anderlecht striker’s spot-kick deflected back out off the post for Romania to clear the danger (72’).
The DFB youngsters out on the pitch and the vociferous bench were not disheartened in the slightest by the missed penalty and began to press harder for that goal they now felt entitled to. Romania’s goalkeeper Vlad was forced into a couple of top saves before Amos Pieper struck the crossbar with a header. At the other end, Pieper, Vagnoman and Co. kept their cool and defended the clean sheet, which, at the end of the day, was all Germany needed to get the job done and book their place in the quarterfinals.
The first round of U21 EURO knockout fixtures will be played at the end of May. Germany will face the winner of Group C: Either Denmark, France or Russia.