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All four Samp stars still eyeing U-21 EURO semi spot


All four Samp stars still eyeing U-21 EURO semi spot

Sampdoria’s four representatives – Bruno Fernandes, Karol Linetty, Patrik Schick and Milan Skriniar – are all still in with a shout of qualifying for the European U21 Championship semi-finals with their respective national sides going into the final round of group matches. Many observers had noted how tough the new 12-team format would be and so it has proved: after the first two matchdays, Spain are the only country sure of their place in the last four.Here’s how the Blucerchiati fared in Matchday 2.

Group A. Slovakia surrendered top spot in Group A as they were beaten 2-1 by England, despite Skriniar putting in an excellent display. Martin Chrien (23) headed the Slovaks in front before goals by Alfie Mawson (50) and Nathan Redmond (61) completed the turnaround for the Three Lions. Linetty meanwhile started in Poland’s 2-2 draw with Sweden – a result which just about keeps alive their hopes of qualifying. Lukasz Moneta struck first blood for the Poles (5) but Carlos Strandberg (36) and Une Larsson netted (41) before half time to turn the tables. Poland looked to be heading out of the competition until Dawid Kownacki grabbed a lifeline with a 92nd-minute penalty. England are now top of the group on four points with Slovakia second on three. Linetty’s Poland must beat England in their final group match to stand any chance of reaching the last four while victory for Slovakia against Sweden could see them go through as group winners or as best runners-up.

Group B. In Group B Portugal had to contend with a potent Spain side and were unable to upset the odds as they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat. Saul Niguez, Sandro Ramirez and Inaki Williams scored for the Spaniards while Bruma temporarily pulled the scores back to 2-1 with a wonder strike. It was Portugal’s first defeat in five years but it could cost them dear: captain Bruno Fernandes and his team-mates must now beat Macedonia in their final game and hope to qualify as best runners-up on six points.

Group C. Patrik Schick, playing what could be his last match as a Sampdoria player, helped Czech Republic defeat Italy, setting up Michal Travnik for the opener in the 24th minute. Domenico Berardi (70) equalised for the Azzurri but late goals by Marek Havlik and Michael Luftner sealed the win for the Czechs. Vitezslav Lavicka’s side remain in the running for a semi-final berth as they move onto three points, level with Italy and three behind Germany. They face Denmark in their last group match on Saturday.

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