Before 1990 no team had won two UEFA European Under-18 Championships, but not only did the Soviet Union retain their crown - for the second tournament running they won the final against Portugal, who then promptly went and triumphed in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
After two strong performances, 1986 winners and 1988 semi-finalists East Germany's last U18 appearance before reunification with the West ended with a qualifying elimination. Other than the USSR, the only former champions to qualify were Hungary, who were selected to host the finals.
As in both the previous knockout competitions, though, the home nation fell at the first. József Szabados gave Hungary a half-time lead against Portugal, but Paulo Torres equalised and his side won 3-1 on penalties. England also went through on spot-kicks after a 1-1 draw, defeating Belgium 5-4, while the Soviet Union and Spain gained 3-0 wins against Sweden and the Republic of Ireland respectively.
Two days later came the play-offs for World Cup places. Niklas Gudmundsson's hat-trick helped Sweden see off Belgium 6-0, but hosts Hungary lost 1-0 to Ireland. The USSR came from behind to defeat England 3-1 in the semi-finals, where for the second tournament running Portugal met Spain, and the 1988 runners-up won again, their 2-1 victory thanks to first-half goals from João Pinto and Luís Figo either side of Alfonso Pérez's effort.
Ángel Cuellar's goal ensured Spain beat England to third place, but 120 minutes could not separate the USSR and Portugal in Bekescsaba. So for the second time the final went to penalties, but unlike in 1984 when the Soviets lost to Hungary, they held their nerve to defeat Portugal 4-2.
Portugal were hosts and holders of the World Cup next year, and the 'golden generation' of Figo, Jorge Costa, Rui Costa and co emerged with the trophy again thanks to wins against Ireland, Argentina, the Korea Republic, Mexico, Australia and, in the final, Brazil following a penalty shoot-out. The USSR fell 3-0 against Brazil in the semi-finals but did pip Australia to third place on penalties.
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