The Germany U21 side got off to a perfect start in their European Championship campaign in Poland. Manager Stefan Kuntz’s men defeated the Czech Republic U21s 2-0 thanks to goals from Max Meyer (44’) and Serge Gnabry (50’), although Davie Selke had a penalty saved by Czech goalkeeper Lukas Zima in the 85th minute.
Germany have set themselves up for success by going top of Group C for now. The group’s second game is to be played later on in the evening between Denmark and Italy (20:45 CEST).
Germany got off to an impressive start in Tychy, with captain Maximilian Arnold already testing Czech goalkeeper Zima with a free-kick three minutes in, before Gnabry looked to take the lead with an unsuccessful finish two minutes later. Davie Selke put Gnabry through, before the newly signed Bayern München man saw his shot whizz just past the far post (5’).
If the boys were nervous, it was almost impossible to tell as they played with confidence and conviction. Max Meyer had a go from 22 metres out, but Zima was equal to the 11th minute effort. On the other hand, the Czech outfit were visibly tired after attempting to press Germany early on. Germany and their aggressive players weren’t phased however, and continued to test their opponents.
The attack was going through the speedy Gnabry as well as the playmaker Max Meyer. Mitchell Weiser also saw a lot of involvement going forward, including an instance in the 28th minute when he cut the ball back to Gnabry, but once more the ball went wide after Zima got his fingertips to it.
There was reason to celebrate just as the team might have thought they were going into the half all-square – but Max Meyer had other ideas. The Schalke 04 playmaker slotted the ball past Zima’s outstretched arms into the bottom-right corner (44’).
Kuntz’s men sought to build on their one-goal lead, and didn’t have to wait long after the restart. Zima parried a Mahmoud Dahoud strike from 20 metres out in the 48th minute, but just two mintues later the Czech Republic succumbed to Germany’s relentless attacks, culminating in the ball landing at Gnabry’s feet, and the winger made no mistake with his finish across the keeper (50’).
The Czech Republic reacted well and came into the game after the second goal. Patrick Schick just failed to get a goal back for his side (57’) before Jakub Jankto was denied by Julian Pollersbeck in the 59th minute. Gnabry just missed out on making it 3-0 by a hair’s breadth 63 minutes in.
The closing stages of the game saw a very open game in which the ball was going back-and-forth between penalty areas. A three-on-one situation saw Meyer just slip at the crucial time after Selke’s ball was inches behind him (77’), but not long after Jankto’s hand made contact with a Yannick Gerhardt cross in his penalty box, leading to Spanish referee Jesus Gil Manzano to point to the spot.
However, a strong hand from Zima denied Selke’s penalty. At the other end, Schick narrowly missed out on grabbing a consolation goal for his side with moments left when he sent his shot high and wide.