The 2012/13 edition of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship highlighted the strength in depth of the women's game throughout Europe with three debutants in the final tournament and a new name on the trophy in the form of Poland.
Alongside Poland, Sweden and Belgium were also making their maiden appearances, while Spain completed the lineup, going into the competition aiming to claim a third title to match the achievement of 2012 victors Germany.
The Germans, who were also winners in 2008 and 2009, were absent from the final-four for the first time in the competition's six-year history, finishing third in a second qualifying round group topped by Belgium. Meanwhile, three-time runners-up and current FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup holders France were also conspicuous by their absence after being edged out in qualifying by Spain.
While there were newcomers amongst the qualifiers, it was also a watershed moment for the tournament itself, being the last to be staged in Nyon after six seasons as its home, as well as the final four-team competition before expanding to eight for the first time in England in late 2013.
First up at Colovray Stadium were Belgium and Poland and the honour of first goalscorer would go to the Poles' Katarzyna Konat. Their opponents levelled through Tine De Caigny but Poland would set down a marker of their intent by sealing a 3-1 win with goals from Paulina Dudek and the outstanding Ewa Pajor. Precocious talent Pajor is known in her homeland as the female Lionel Messi and it was not difficult to see why as she teased Belgium with her skill and knack for creating goalscoring opportunities.
The second semi-final was a game of contrasting styles as Spain's swift passing and movement was matched against Sweden's more physical and direct approach. Nothing could separate the sides at half-time after Nahikari García's opener was cancelled out by Sweden's Stina Blackstenius, and when the sides shared another goal apiece in the second period – Jennifer Karlsson and Maddi Torre on target – the match was decided on penalties.
Going into sudden-death, Sweden goalkeeper Emma Holmgren proved to be the match-winner, stepping forward to score the winning goal in a 5-4 shoot-out win to secure a first final for the Scandinavians.
The final would be a tight hard-fought affair and it was Poland who emerged victorious as Ewelina Kamczyk's shot on the turn after 15 minutes proved to be the only goal, earning the country its first female international title. Meanwhile, Spain ended the tournament on a high by claiming third-place with a comprehensive 4-0 win against Belgium, with García's goal in that game enough for her to top the goalscorers list with two.
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