Having dismantled France in their quarter final match optimism was high in the Ukrainian camp, especially as Spain had struggled to get a draw against them in their group game.
Ukraine’s manager, Ruslan Rotan, had to make a couple of changes with Dmytro Kryskiv supended. He was replaced by Danylo Sikan, and Oleksy Kashchuk made way for Oleksandr Nazarenko, who was named man-of-the-match in the earlier 2-2 draw.
Spain was unchanged and started the match brightly, surging forward and looking like they would brush their opponents aside, with both Oihan Sancet and Alex Baena going close early on.
But Sancet’s fierce drive was smartly stopped by Anatoly Trubin, who gave his side inspiration, and just two minutes later Ukraine were ahead.
Mykhailo Mudryk, who has finally shown the form in this tournament that persuaded Chelsea to pay over $100 million for him in January, surged to the byline then cut the ball back for Artem Bondarenko to fire Ukraine into a surprise lead.
Their joy was short lived, as four minutes later Abel Ruiz pounced upon a defensive mishap in the Ukraine back line, connecting with Victor Gomez's through ball before rounding Trubin and slamming the ball into the net past the covering Maksym Talovierov.
On 24 minutes, Sancet was not going to be denied again. His stinging drive from the edge of the area took a crucial deflection off Arseny Batahov to wrong-foot Trubin, his shot nestling in the bottom corner as Spain completed the turnaround in the space of ten minutes.
Ukraine’s heads didn’t drop and, just before half-time, another Mudryk-inspired move saw Spain’s keeper Arnau Tenas doing brilliantly to produce a double save from Sikan’s initial effort and then Nazarenko’s follow up.
After the break there was no ease up in Spain’s pressure with a number of the Ukrainian players struggling, a combination of a shortage of competitive matches since Russia’s full-scale invasion and their efforts during the tournament.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Antonio Blanco pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area, took one touch to compose himself, before rifling Spain’s third home.
With 20 minutes left to play Aimar Oroz, a second-half substitute for Sancet put the game beyond Ukraine’s reach, curling a superb fourth for Spain.
That was the signal for Spanish boss Santi Denia to make wholesale changes with one eye on the final, but it didn’t stop his team adding a fifth sumptuous effort by Sergio Gomez,
his third goal of the tournament putting him level with Abel Ruiz and Georgy Sudakov in the hunt for the “golden boot.”
Spain’s dominance in the match was in glaring contrast to the 2-2 draw these two sides played out in the group stage. Spain is now in line for its sixth championship win and this performance showed their tournament experience telling as they are peaking at just the right moment.
With England having not conceded a goal in the whole competition it leaves expectations running high for a classic match in Saturday’s final with England.
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