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Spain make it six of the best in Estonia

The 11th UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia ended in the same fashion to five of the previous ten: with Spain holding the trophy aloft, Greece their final victims.
Spain make it six of the best in Estonia
Spain celebrate after winning their sixth Under-19 title ©Sportsfile

Spain make it six of the best in Estonia

The 11th UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia ended in the same fashion to five of the previous ten: with Spain holding the trophy aloft, Greece their final victims.

A late winner from Jesé Rodríguez continued Spain's dominance of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, securing a sixth title in 11 years – and a second in succession – at the expense of a tireless Greece in Tallinn.

In the final for the third year in a row, La Rojita characteristically monopolised possession but without breaking down their opponents, José Campaña's shot striking the crossbar to encapsulate their frustrations. Julen Lopetegui's team finally made their pressure tell ten minutes from time as Jesé's calm finish gave them the trophy yet again in front of a crowd of almost 8,000 spectators – and ensured a repeat of their 2007 final defeat of Greece by the same scoreline.

Both teams had come through epic semi-finals. Mavroudis Bougaidis headed Greece in front against England from a corner before goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino was sent off in the 45th minute for bringing down Benik Afobe, although Sokratis Dioudis came on to save Robert Hall's penalty. Afobe nodded a 56th-minute equaliser yet Greece refused to buckle and, three minutes into the second period of extra time, gained what proved to be a decisive advantage thanks to Charalambos Lykogiannis' composed lob.

Barely had the excitement died down at the Lilleküla Stadium before Spain and France emerged for the second semi-final, which proved another thriller. Samuel Umtiti gave 2010 winners France a 26th-minute lead, but the holders turned the match around through Gerard Deulofeu and substitute Paco Alcácer only for Umtiti to equalise in added time.

Deulofeu restored Spain's lead in the 112th minute; five minutes later Paul Pogba brought France level again. That sent the game into a shoot-out and, though Campaña blazed Spain's first kick over, Kepa Arrizabalaga saved from Umtiti and Geoffrey Kondogbia to leave Deulofeu to convert the decisive kick.

Spain had started the tournament as they finished it – with victory against Greece thanks to first-half goals from Jesé and Derik Osede. Jesé scored a hat-trick next time out as Lopetegui's side displayed many of the attacking hallmarks of the senior side, but opponents Portugal snatched a 3-3 draw.

Hosts Estonia – backed by large crowds throughout but beaten by Greece and Portugal in their first two matches – fell 2-0 to Spain in their final fixture, a result that ensured La Rojita of first place in Group A; Greece joined them in the last four, captain Giorgos Katidis scoring twice in a decisive 3-2 win against Portugal.

France were the first side to reach the semi-finals thanks to wins against Serbia (3-0) and Croatia (1-0). Pierre Mankowski then made seven changes to his side for the concluding Group B encounter against England, who drew 1-1 with Croatia and defeated Serbia 2-1, and Noel Blake's team took full advantage to defeat Les Petits Bleus 2-1 and leap above them in the table.

Croatia, meanwhile, took third place following a 3-0 victory in their final match against Serbia, meaning they would join Spain, Greece, Portugal, England and France in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey. Over 46,000 spectators saw the 15 matches in Estonia – and the final outcome was a familiar one.

http://www.uefa.com/under19/history/season=2012/index.html#six+best+spain

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