Fittingly, the final UEFA European Under-16 Championship in 2000/01 was won by the country that had lifted the trophy more than any other. Spain were crowned champions for the sixth time by defeating France in the final in front of almost 30,000 spectators with a goal from one of European football's rising stars, Fernando Torres.
The Spanish began the final tournament with emphatic victories against Romania and Belgium, and went through as Group A winners despite losing their final fixture 2-0 to Germany, who progressed as section runners-up having crushed Romania 8-2 on Matchday 2. Turkey and Russia held off the Netherlands and Poland to progress from Group B, the Turkish team taking first place with six points, one more than Russia.
Final tournament hosts England, meanwhile, made the worst possible start with a 3-1 reverse against Italy, but narrow wins in their next two fixtures, against Switzerland and Hungary, sent Dick Bate's team into the quarter-finals as Group C winners. They were joined by the Italians, who edged out Switzerland on goal difference with both teams having finished on four points, one more than Hungary. France, meanwhile, scored eleven goals without conceding to claim first place in Group D ahead of Croatia, Scotland and Finland.
Two of the four quarter-finals were decided on penalties, Spain edging out Italy on spot-kicks after a 1-1 draw, while England defeated Germany in Middlesbrough after the two teams had also drawn 1-1. Croatia, meanwhile prevailed 2-0 against Turkey and Russia lost out to France by the same scoreline. The semi-finals were more emphatic; Fernando Torres struck twice as Spain defeated Croatia 3-0 while Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle both scored twice as France ended England's hopes by a surprisingly one-sided 4-0 margin. There was more disappointment for England in the third-placed play-off as Croatia responded better to their semi-final loss by running out 4-1 winners to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Championship.
The final, at Sunderland AFC's home the Stadium of Light, was witnessed by 29,100 fans, who saw a tight contest which was settled by Torres' 76th-minute penalty. The goal was the Club Athlético de Madrid striker's sixth of the final tournament, although Sinama-Pongolle finished as the top scorer overall having scored 12 times.
But while Spain fell in the World Championship group stage along with Croatia, France saw off Brazil and Argentina in the knockout phase before a 3-0 win against Nigeria gave them the title, Europe's first since the Soviet Union in 1987. Sinama-Pongolle had opened the scoring in the final, and his total nine goals saw him finish top scorer and player of the tournament.
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