Not for the first time at the 2011 UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship finals, France discovered that the line between success and failure can be wafer thin, falling on the wrong side of that equation as they succumbed to a last-gasp Spain goal in the final.
Three days before this 1-0 loss, it was Paco Rubio's side who were celebrating a win by slender margins, having held their nerve to emerge victorious from a semi-final penalty shoot-out against Germany. Their celebrations after Melanie Leupolz missed the decisive spot kick were loud and joyful, and their anguish was similarly extreme as Alba Pomares grabbed the only goal of the final in added time to secure Spain's second consecutive triumph.
"It's true that to lose that way is a bit cruel, but I must admit that Spain were better than us as they were able to control the way they played their final," captain Claire Lavogez told UEFA.com. "It's hard to lose in the final moments, but that's how football is. We have to learn from things like this. We're only 17 years old, and we were close to penalties again with a chance to win the European Championship.
"We've been together for a year and a half," added the prolific midfielder, who added to her nine goals in six qualifying games with a splendid long-range free-kick against Germany. "
We've spent some superb moments together and managed to reach a final. I wish it on every player to experience moments like this, but obviously the best moment would have been to win a European trophy rather than to lose in the final."
Fellow midfielder Sandie Toletti shared Lavogez's mix of disappointment and positivity, not least since she has personal reasons to look back fondly on the tournament. Indeed, one of the features of the final was the vociferous support she received from a group of family and friends in the crowd who unfurled a large banner with her name on it.
"It's hard to accept losing in stoppage time like that," she said. "
We tried our best, but that's how it is. It's certain that we'll learn from this. In a final, there has to be a winner and a loser."
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