East Germany, 1989 runners-up and four-time semi-finalists, hosted the 1990 event in their last bid as a separate team. But it was a nation soon to split, rather than reunify - Czechoslovakia - who became champions.
The biggest-name absentees were the Soviet Union, beaten 2-1 on aggregate by Yugoslavia in qualifying, while Czechoslovakia's 9-0 first-leg win against Malta was to remain the record U16 victory until it became an U17 event. In the final tournament holders Portugal were drawn in Group A and opened with a 2-1 win against Northern Ireland. They followed that with a 2-2 draw with Turkey then defeated Denmark 3-1 to reach the semi-finals. In Group B were four teams who had never reached the semi-finals before: Poland, Cyprus, Hungary and Sweden. Poland and Sweden would both finish undefeated, but it was the former who would take top spot thanks to wins against Cyprus and Hungary.
It was a similar story in Group C where West Germany and Czechoslovakia opened with a goalless draw. Neither side would lose a match, but West Germany's 1-1 draw with France cost them a place in the final four as wins against France and Scotland took Czechoslovakia through. Yugoslavia took the final place, finishing top of Group D with a perfect record and without conceding a goal against Belgium, East Germany and Spain, Miodrag Ciric's 40th-minute goal proving enough to oust two-time champions Spain.
Ciric scored again as Yugoslavia defeated Poland 4-1 in the semi-finals, while the holders' reign ended, Portugal losing 5-3 on penalties to Czechoslovakia after a 0-0 draw. In a thrilling final Czechoslovakia battled back from two goals down to overcame Yugoslavia 3-2 in Erfurt. Miodrag Pantelic gave Yugoslavia the lead and Aleksandar Stanojevic doubled the advantage three minutes into the second half. But Marek Penksa immediately pulled one back, Patrik Berger equalised on the hour, and in extra-time Martin Cížek struck the winner.
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