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Torres sparkles for Spain

Published: Saturday 29 April 2006, 12.14CET
Fernando Torres was the hero for Spain with four goals in Norway and the final winner against Germany to secure the first U19 title.

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Published: Saturday 29 April 2006, 12.14CET

Torres sparkles for Spain

Fernando Torres was the hero for Spain with four goals in Norway and the final winner against Germany to secure the first U19 title.

After a history of Under-18 tournaments stretching back to 1948, and 18 UEFA European U18 Championships over more than 20 years, the competition was reclassified as a U19 event for 2001/02. However, the format was unchanged from the last U18 event - a 14-group preliminary round with the winners progressing to seven two-legged play-offs for finals places alongside the hosts, Norway, staging their first men's European competition.

The final tournament began miserably for host nation, as they fell 5-1 to Slovakia, with Nelly Viennot running the line to become the first female official at a male UEFA tournament. Elsewhere in Group A the Czechs drew 1-1 with Spain. Two days later Slovakia overcame their Czech neighbours 5-2 while Spain defeated the hosts 3-0. With only the group winners to go through, Spain now had to defeat the Slovakians, and did just that by a 3-1 scoreline. The Czechs won 1-0 against Norway to finish third and join Slovakia and Spain in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship.

Group B began dramatically as Philipp Lahm and Mike Hanke scored in added time to salvage a 3-3 draw for Germany against England. Ireland overcame Belgium 2-1 but then fell 3-0 to Germany, as England were again denied victory late on in a 1-1 draw with Belgium. Germany were in pole position, and defeated Belgium 2-1 to set up a final against Spain. Ireland secured second place as they overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit against England to prevail 3-2. However, England did pip Belgium to the World Championship.

In the third-place play-off Slovakia came from behind to defeat Ireland 2-1. That was followed at Oslo's Ullevål stadium by the decider, and in front of 16,464 spectators Fernando Torres struck on 55 minutes to give Spain the title 1-0 and leave himself as finals top scorer with four goals.

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