Rome, June 20: Pablo Fornals scored a sensational late winner as Spain got up and running in the European Under-21 Championship with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.
Having gone down 3-1 to hosts Italy in their opening Group A outing, Spain rallied on Wednesday (June 19) to give themselves a great chance of progression.
However, they had to rely on a late goal from Fornals – who signed for West Ham on Friday (June 14) – to claim the points, after Sebastiaan Bornauw had cancelled out Dani Olmo's opener.
Spain dominated from the off in Reggio Emilia and had the lead when Dinamo Zagreb star Olmo thumped in from Carlos Soler's cut-back after just six minutes, only for Belgium to equalise when Bornauw bundled home from a corner.
Dani Ceballos was in inspirational form as Spain looked to shrug off Belgium's equaliser and he had a crisp effort saved, before his exceptional free-kick in the second half struck the crossbar, with Borja Mayoral unable to nod in the rebound.
Ortwin De Wolf pulled off a superb double save to further frustrate Spain, but in the final minute West Ham new boy Fornals displayed his quality with a stunning long-range effort that was driven into the right side of the net.
Poland, meanwhile, moved top of Group A as Krystian Bielik's 40th-minute volley proved enough to claim a surprise 1-0 win over Italy.
The hosts were wasteful throughout the first half at Renato Dall'Ara and were punished when Bielik lashed in after Dawid Kownacki's free-kick had deflected off Italy's wall.
Riccardo Orsolini thought he had restored parity on the stroke of half-time, but VAR was used to determine the winger had strayed offside before tucking home from a strike that had clipped back off the upright.
Lorenzo Pellegrini hit the post and Patrick Cutrone passed up a golden chance after the interval, but despite Italy's onslaught, Poland held firm to move within a point of guaranteeing their place in the semi-finals.