Frank Kramer’s Germany side proved too hot to handle for a weak Bulgaria as they thrashed Angel Stoykov’s men 3-0 to keep their European U19 Championship dreams afloat yesterday.
It was to be a rather one-sided encounter in Gori, as the Germans got off to a perfect start that Bulgaria could never have possibly recovered from. The first nine minutes of the affair offered no real excitement or clear-cut chances for either side, but this was all to change very quickly. Aymen Barkok did exceptionally well to work space on the right for Germany before laying the ball off to Dominik Franke who picked out Etienne Amenyido perfectly in the Bulgarian box. The big 19-year-old then turned as he found space, before firing a low shot towards goal which took a heavy deflection off Bulgaria defender Andrea Hristov on its way to beating Daniel Naumov and finding the net. Amenyido had laid the demons of his missed chances during the shambolic 1-4 defeat to The Netherlands to rest and the whole German side were now brimming with confidence.
Things would just turn out to go from bad to worse for Bulgaria and in particular Hristov, as just a matter of moments later he was given his marching orders by referee Sergei Lapochkin. A fantastic Germany move saw skipper Gokhan Gul’s long ball forward flicked on by Franke into the path of Amenyido. Yet again, the Borussia Dortmund man was quick to turn and this time he was pulled down by none other than the Slavia Sofia man Hristov. In harsh circumstances, the referee showed no hesitation in giving the distressed No 2 a straight red card. It was to be Gul to step up to the spot kick for Deutschland and he made no mistake in sending the keeper the wrong way with an emphatic penalty after waiting a long time for Hristov to leave the field. Suddenly, Bulgaria were staring a tournament exit straight in the face after a few glorious moments for the Germans just 18 minutes into the tie.
A depleted Bulgaria were forced into an early change after the dismissal, as attacking midfielder Ivan Tilev was replaced by defender Vasil Dobrev. However, the change did nothing to tighten a loose defence that continued to leak chances, as both Dennis Geiger and Barkok failed to make the most of decent shooting opportunities before the break. However, as the players went in for half-time many considered Germany lucky not to have had one of their own players sent off, as Eike Bansen brought down Kaloyan Krastev in the box with the referee waving away the penalty appeal.
To the relief of everyone involved in the game unlike the firs-half, referee Lapochkin would not go on to steal the show with a series of bizarre decisions in the second-half. Despite this fact, there would still prove to be one team who did steal the show in the second half and that would-be Germany. The Bulgarians would go on to lose both their discipline and concentration in the second period, as Kramer’s men strolled to victory. Amenyido would again prove to be influential to Germany in winning a penalty for the second time in the game as he was tripped just inside the area by the substitute Dobrev, the decision would turn out to be the first major correct one by the Russian referee. The penalty itself would be calmly slotted away by Sidney Friede to all but secure a convincing victory for his German side.
The Germans would only go from strength to strength as the second half progressed, and could have made it four just moments later, but Barkok’s effort was well saved by Naumov. The rest of the second half would see chances for the likes of Friede and Robin Hack go by the way side, as a game of defence against attack was played out with a limp Bulgaria. The boys in green and red only had keeper Dan Naumov to thank for not conceding more goals against the German starlets, as the tall keeper made saves from the likes of substitute David Raum. As the full-time whistle finally blew in Gori, the only disappointment from a German perspective would have been the fact that they only managed to score three goals against Stoykov’s men. However, on the flip side as Bulgaria went crashing out of the tournament, disappointment would have been the only feeling from their camp after showing promise by beating the likes of Portugal and France in qualifying.
The German side will now face Semi-Finalists England in a must-win tie on Sunday in Tbilisi. Whereas, the Germans will be hoping that Bulgaria can end the competition on a high by doing their counterparts a favour and beating The Netherlands in Gori also in two days-time. So, with qualification to the semis all left to play for in group B on Match Day Three, who will join England, Portugal and Georgia/Czech Republic in the Semi-Final of the 2017 European U19 Championship?