Result: Saul Niguez hat-trick fires Spain Under-21s into Euro 2017 final

Saul Niguez in action for Spain Under-21s against Italy Under-21s on March 27. 2017
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Saul Niguez scores a hat-trick as Spain beat Italy 3-1 to reach the final of the 2017 Under-21 European Championships.

Spain have qualified for the final of the 2017 Under-21 European Championships courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Italy in their semi-final in Krakow this evening.

Saul Niguez scored a memorable hat-trick to inspire Spain into a seventh final at Under-21 level, with Italy only managing a Filippo Bernardeschi goal in reply having been reduced to 10 men shortly before the hour mark.

Spain will now take on Germany in the final on Friday, where they will look to lift the trophy for a fifth time.

Italy - already five-time winners - got off to the brighter start and tested Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Spain goal within the opening minutes when Federico Chiesa cut inside from the left flank and forced a save from the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper.

Spain soon began to control possession in typical fashion, though, and after Dani Ceballos's strike had deflected off target Gerard Deulofeu almost scored directly from the resulting corner, with Gianluigi Donnarumma forced to tip the wicked delivery over his crossbar.

Deulofeu forced Donnarumma into action again in the 19th minute, but the best chance of the first half fell the way of Italy when Lorenzo Pellegrini collected the ball inside the penalty area and fired an effort towards goal which Kepa had to save.

The Spanish goalkeeper was required again moments later when Mattia Caldera looped a header towards goal from a corner, but Kepa clawed it away from underneath his own crossbar.

Both sides continued to probe for a way through as the first half progressed, with Deulofeu threatening shortly after the half-hour mark and rumoured Everton target Sandro Ramirez firing one over the crossbar after good work from Ceballos.

Kepa was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half, though, and he made the final save of the half too when Andrea Petagna did well to create space and draw a routine stop.

Italy again made a bright start to the second half, with Daniele Rugani flicking an early corner on at the front post, but the half would belong to Saul, and the Atletico Madrid man scored the first of his three goals after 53 minutes when he collected Ceballos's pass before quickly sorting his feet out and placing a clinical finish into the bottom corner.

Italy almost responded soon after when Pellegrini played an agonising ball across the face of goal, but their hopes of getting back into the game took a huge blow when Roberto Gagliardini picked up a second yellow card just eight minutes after his initial booking.

Luigi di Biagio's side responded well to that, though, and levelled things up against the odds shortly after the hour mark when Bernardeschi brought the ball inside before firing a deflected shot past Kepa from just outside the area.

Parity lasted just three minutes before Saul blasted Spain back in front, letting fly from all of 30 yards and leaving Donnarumma no chance as the ball slammed into the back of the net.

Italy's brief moment of defiance had been ended in some style, and from that point on it never looked likely that Spain would let their lead slip, with Deulofeu drawing a save from Donnarumma before Marco Asensio placed an effort narrowly wide.

The third goal eventually arrived with a little over 15 minutes remaining, and it was another quality finish from Saul as he tucked a measured first-time shot into the bottom corner having been picked out by Asensio's pull-back.

Pellegrini almost provided a consolation goal in the final minute of normal time, but by that stage the match was over as a contest as Spain eased into Friday's final against Germany by maintaining their 100% record in this year's competition.

Gianluigi Donnarumma in action during the Serie A game between Roma and Milan on December 12, 2016
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