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Oriol Romeu admitted Spain paid the price for their second-half performance after La Roja allowed France to come from behind and win the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final 2-1.
Such a turn of events seemed unimaginable at half-time at the Stade Michel-d'Ornano in Caen with Luis Milla's team were in full control having dominated possession and territory during another impressive 45 minutes. The four-time winners, who went into the final having won all four of their previous matches in the tournament, almost doubled their lead within seconds of the restart through Sergio Canales – a missed opportunity they would come to regret. Seconds later Gilles Sunu equalised and Romeu pointed to those moments as the turning point as Spain lost their way and their composure.
"During the first four games of the tournament, and even during the first half, we played really well," said the 18-year-old midfielder. "We were at a very good level but in this type of match, at this level, you cannot afford to make as many mistakes as we did in the second half. We played really well in the first half, we were in total control of the ball, but when they scored their first goal they pressed us much more. During a final, you have to concentrate for 90 minutes, otherwise it gets away from you.
"Had Canales scored his chance, we would have been 2-0 up; instead, it was soon 1-1," added Romeu. "In a match like this, with a succession of attacks at either end, it's the more efficient team who wins it.
Once they managed to equalise they had the match in their hands. We couldn't respond to that and we've lost the match. When they made it 1-1 we started to feel afraid, the fans got behind them and pushed them on and that was really the end of the match for us."
Spain's captain Keko added: "
It's stupid because it's been a long road here and we came to this tournament to win it. We're really disappointed. We definitely played the best football in the competition. We enjoyed a really good tournament as a whole, but between the first and the second half we weren't at our usual level and France took advantage. On such little details a European Championship can escape you."
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