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Spain back on top

Portuguese victories in 1995 and 1996 had drawn them level with Spain on three U16 titles. The Spanish restored their lead a year on in Germany.
Spain back on top
Spain won their fourth title at this level in 1997 ©Sportsfile

Spain back on top

Portuguese victories in 1995 and 1996 had drawn them level with Spain on three U16 titles. The Spanish restored their lead a year on in Germany.

Portuguese victories in 1995 and 1996 had drawn them level with Spain on three Under-16 titles. The Spanish restored their lead a year on in Germany.

In fact, Portugal lost their title in the qualifying round, failing to make the finals for the first time in 13 years after losing 1-0 to Hungary and Armenia. Germany were placed in Group A and strolled through, beating Israel 3-0, Switzerland 2-0 and Northern Ireland 1-0. The Swiss joined them in the last eight thanks to wins against Israel and Northern Ireland. Spain began Group B by having a player sent off on eight minutes and falling 1-0 behind to Ukraine seconds later. They went on to win that game 6-1 and never looked back. Further wins against Poland and Austria took them through with a perfect record with second place going to Austria on three-way head-to-head.

That pool produced an impressive 23 goals; there were five more in Group C which Belgium won by three points from Hungary. Hungary opened with a 6-3 defeat of Georgia while Belgium only needed one to defeat Italy. One goal was also enough for Belgium to defeat Hungary to secure qualification. Hungary's 2-1 win against Italy gave them second place, while Belgium struck five first-half goals in beating Georgia 5-1 to win the group. Turkey won Group D without conceding, defeating Slovenia 2-0, Slovakia 1-0 and Iceland 4-0. Victory against Iceland and a 2-2 draw against Slovenia saw Slovakia qualify as runners-up.

In the quarter-finals Germany and Spain were both 3-1 winners against Hungary and Slovakia respectively, Austria defeated Turkey 3-0, and Belgium lost on penalties to Switzerland following a 0-0 draw. With three suspensions, Switzerland held Austria 0-0 in the semi-finals but suffered a 6-5 loss on spot-kicks. Germany fell 2-1 to Spain in the semi-finals, though did then defeat Switzerland 3-1 to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

In 1988 Spain had won the trophy on penalties after a goalless draw with Portugal. Now their 1997 generation repeated the trick with Corona converting the winning kick. In the World Championship, Austria lost in the group stage. Spain eventually finished third, beating Germany - who had lost in the semi-finals to eventual winners Brazil.

http://www.uefa.com/under17/history/season=1997/index.html#spain+back

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