Spain's stranglehold on the UEFA European Under-19 Championship continued in 2006 as they lifted the trophy for the third time at the fifth edition in Poland.
The intrigue began in the qualifying round as Italy were eliminated, but an even bigger surprise awaited in the Elite round. France, bidding to become the first country to lift the European U17 Championship and go on to triumph at U19 level two years later with a similar squad, had recorded three qualifying-round wins but came unstuck in dramatic fashion as draws with Belarus and Scotland allowed the latter to snatch a finals place.
In Poland home hopes suffered an early setback in Group A as Erwin Hoffer's late goal gave Austria a 1-0 victory on the opening day, when Belgium defeated the Czech Republic 4-2. Both beaten sides quickly bounced back, however, the Czechs winning 3-1 against Austria while a Dawid Janczyk hat-trick secured Poland's 4-1 victory against Belgium. Belgian aspirations were ended by another 4-1 loss, this time to Austria for whom Hoffer scored twice more to take his finals total to four, and the Czechs clinched first place with a 2-0 defeat of Poland.
Group B began in a blizzard of goals. Ílhan Parlak struck twice for Turkey on Matchday 1, but Spain's Juan Manuel Mata trumped that with a hat-trick as his side ran out 5-3 winners. Portugal, meanwhile, struck twice in the final 18 minutes to draw 2-2 with Scotland, who were subsequently dismantled 4-0 by the Spanish. Turkey and Portugal served up another goal feast, Ílhan scoring three times, but again it was insufficient for victory in a 4-4 draw. Both sides experienced disappointment on Matchday 3, as Scotland took advantage of Portugal's 1-1 draw with already-qualified Spain to defeat Turkey 3-2 and claim the runners-up berth.
There was some consolation for Poland and Portugal, as their third-placed finishes ensured both joined the semi-finalists in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. In the final four, Austria met Spain without suspended top scorer Hoffer and proved no match for Ginés Meléndez's side, for whom Javi García scored twice in a 5-0 victory. The second semi-final proved a much closer contest, Scotland's Calum Elliot getting the only goal against the Czech Republic early in the second half.
Although Spain had overwhelmed their final opponents in the group stage, the final was a different story. Disciplined and determined Scottish defending initially frustrated Spain, only for Alberto Bueno to score twice in the second half to join Ílhan on five goals as the finals' leading scorer. Graham Dorrans pulled one back, but Spain held on for a memorable triumph.
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