In a season that marked Juan Santisteban's 20th in charge of Spain's junior squad it was appropriate that he became the first coach to win two consecutive UEFA European Under-17 Championship titles.
Before the finals in the southern Turkish city of Antalya, there had been suggestions that Spain did not have the talent of 2007's Bojan Krkić-inspired champions. But they eased through a group stage which included a memorable 3-3 draw with France and showed resolve to edge past the Netherlands in the semi-finals. But the best was to come in a final against France in which Keko, Thiago and Sergi led a stunning attacking performance for a 4-0 victory. "I am an old man and seen a lot of football, and this is the best performance I have seen from any of your youth teams," purred Santisteban.
Spain had begun with a comfortable 2-0 win against Switzerland, Sergi scoring twice on his U17 debut, while in the other Group B opener France needed a last-gasp goal from substitute Alexandre Lacazette for a 2-1 comeback win against the Republic of Ireland. Switzerland beat Ireland 1-0 three days later and that ended the debutants' campaign as Spain came from behind three times against France, Thiago striking two equalisers from free-kicks. Spain were to top the group as they recovered from a deficit to defeat Ireland 3-1 as Rubén came on at half-time and scored twice before setting up Thiago. Yannis Tafer was on target twice as France beat Switzerland 2-0 for second place.
Group A involved hosts Turkey and they were immediately rematched with the nation they beat in the 2005 final, the Netherlands. Öztürk Karataş struck early before late substitutes Eren Albayrak and Muhammet Demir secured a 3-0 win for the home side. Two superb Danijel Aleksić goals gave Serbia a 2-0 victory against Scotland but the striker drew a blank in the next game as Geoffrey Castillion secured a 1-0 win for the Netherlands, matched by Turkey against Scotland. That all but secured Turkey's progress which was ensured as they held Serbia 0-0, a result that meant that the Netherlands' 2-0 defeat of Scotlland took them into the semi-finals, Castillion scoring on 34 minutes and Ricardo van Rhijn adding a second just after the break.
The Netherlands went into their encounter with Spain as underdogs but deservedly took the lead when Rodney Sneijder, the brother of Wesley, headed in Jerson Cabral's cross. Pulido equalised early in the second half and the game could have gone either way before Spain substitute Ángel Martínez's spectacular extra-time winner. Turkey and France's semi-final was not even resolved by the extra 20 minutes, Thimothée Kolodziecziak having levelled for Les Mini-Bleus late in the second half after Abdülkadir Kayalı's long-range opening goal. A penalty shoot-out was the result and just like Belgium last year, the hosts were eliminated on spot-kicks. Abdülkadir and Tafer had initial efforts saved but crucially France goalkeeper Anthony Mfa Mezui also stopped Turkey's fourth shot by Batuhan Karadeniz and Kolodziecziak and substitute Lacazette converted to put France in the final.
There France were overwhelmed with Keko, aka Club Atlético de Madrid winger Sergio Gontán, breaking the deadlock, Sergi doubling the lead, Thiago – probably the player of the tournament – converting the penalty and substitute Manu completing one of the most convincing final results in UEFA history.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.