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Spain made a confident start to their UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship campaign as goals from Mireya García Boa and Patricia Guijarro earned a 2-0 victory over France.
There was excitement in the main stand in Hinckley before kick-off when the teams fired a flurry of balls into the crowd to give some of the 619 spectators a nice keepsake. When it came to giving the ball away, though, that was where Spain's generosity largely ended. The Spain coach, Jorge Vilda, has won this competition twice before and this was a surefooted start by his side, which leaves them as the early Group B leaders, ahead of Germany on goal difference.
They grew gradually into the match – indeed it was France who threatened first. Manon Uffren hit the defensive wall from an indirect free-kick inside the Spain box and Mathilde Jouanno fired over on the half-volley, but once the Spanish got into their stride, the chances arrived.
Patricia Guijarro headed just over, Nahikari García saw a low shot bounce away off the far post, and then, in the 31st minute, the breakthrough came through García Boa. A fortuitous ricochet meant an attempted French clearance landed at her feet and she responded with a wonderfully instinctive finish, catching Manon Heil off her line with a precise lob from 20 metres.
France coach Guy Ferrier sent on Delphine Cascarino, a member of his 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup-winning side, at half-time but Spain remained ascendant. García Boa broke through but as she rounded Heil, the goalkeeper thrust out a hand to save. The second goal came instead from Guijarro, the No9 bundling the ball in from an Andrea Sánchez corner in the 53rd minute. Spain might have had more goals – not least in one exciting sequence where defiant French defenders got in the way of at least four shots – but the points were theirs already.
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|1||Manon Heil (GK)||1||Elena De Toro (GK)|
|3||Heloise Mansuy||2||Nuria Garrote|
|4||Julie Marichaud (C)||3||Beatriz Beltrán|
|5||Ludivine Willems||4||Silvia Mérida|
|10||Clara Mateo||7||Nahikari García (C)|
|11||Mathilde Jouanno||8||Mireya García Boa|
|12||Soazig Quero||9||Patricia Guijarro|
|14||Perle Morroni||10||Andrea Sánchez|
|15||Manon Uffren||14||Aitana Bonmati|
|16||Elisa Launay (GK)||13||Marta Alemany (GK)|
|2||Estelle Cascarino||5||Rocío Gálvez|
|8||Elise Legrout||12||Laura Ortega|
|13||Clémence Martinez||17||Maite Oroz|
|Guy Ferrier (FRA)||Jorge Vilda (ESP)|
|Lina Lehtovaara (FIN)|
|Elena Adveenko (KAZ), Anna Gorska (POL)|
|Ana Minić (SRB)|