Greece had done well to reach the third final of UEFA's Under-16 tournament, and a year on were selected as hosts. However it was Spain, who were to become the competition's most successful nation, who took the title for the first time.
Holders the Soviet Union progressed to the finals without difficulty against Cyprus, but the other two previous winners, Italy and West Germany, were drawn together; the Azzurrini went through 5-4 on aggregate, having lost their home first leg 3-1. Italy were then placed in Group A in the finals and began by beating the hosts 3-0. A 1-0 victory against Scotland left Italy needing only a point against Portugal, and a goalless draw took them through to the quarter-finals.
Spain, third in 1985, advanced from Group B thanks to comfortable victories against Norway and Sweden, either side of a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria. Both opening Group C games - Denmark v Czechoslovakia and East Germany against Austria - ended 1-1, but in the next matches the Germans defeated Denmark 2-1 and the Czechoslovaks eased past Austria 4-0. East Germany therefore needed to win their final-day match with Czechoslovakia, and duly prevailed 2-0.
The holders were in Group D and were in sparkling form, beating both the Netherlands and Romania 3-1 and then France 4-1 to reach the last eight. Spain, however, accounted for the USSR in the semi-finals, winning 2-1, while Italy beat East Germany on penalties after a 2-2 draw. The East Germans then lost out on third place by the same method, the USSR's spot-kick success coming by an 8-7 scoreline, and later in Athens the gold went to Spain in a 2-1 victory - luckless Italian Gianni Flamigni scoring the 'winning' own goal.
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