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Spain spring final surprise

Spain defeated free-scoring future world champions Germany 2-1 in a surprise result in the 2003/04 final in Finland.
Spain spring final surprise
Spain were surprise victors in 2004 ©Sportsfile

Spain spring final surprise

Spain defeated free-scoring future world champions Germany 2-1 in a surprise result in the 2003/04 final in Finland.

The 2003/04 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship produced possibly an even bigger shock in the final than Greece's victory a month earlier at UEFA EURO 2004.

Finland were selected as hosts, assuring them of their first finals place, and 36 nations attempted to join them. Having taken the 2002/03 title, France opened the first round with a 6-0 win against Wales and easily went through. Also advancing to join Germany and Denmark in the second qualifying round were Austria, 2003 finalists Norway, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Poland, Iceland, Slovakia, Spain, Belgium, England, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Five group winners and only two runners-up would now enter the finals. Germany defeated Iceland, Hungary and Poland, scoring 23 goals in all, while Spain pipped Denmark by a point. Italy and Switzerland both secured six points in their pool, but the latter's goal difference would ensure both teams progressed.

Russia secured wins against Ukraine and Austria in their group behind Norway, who ended with nine points, but had to wait to see if that would be enough. In the end it was, as France went through with three wins but 2003 semi-finalists England secured only four points behind them.

In final tournament Group A, Germany overcame the hosts 4-0 in their opener as Spain beat Switzerland 3-1. Both Germany and Spain won their next games 4-0 to go through and eliminate the Swiss and Finland respectively. Germany then crushed Spain 7-0 to top the group as Switzerland defeated Finland 2-1.

Group B began straightforwardly enough, Norway gaining revenge for the 2003 final by defeating France 2-0 and Italy overcoming Russia 5-1. The next games were drawn − Norway against Italy finished 0-0 and France held Russia 1-1 thanks to Gwenaëlle Pelé's 94th-minute equaliser.

The final day produced twist after twist, as Italy led 2-0 with six minutes to go against France only to lose 3-2, Les Bleuettes scoring twice in added time. However, Russia's 3-0 victory against Norway took them through in second place behind Italy in a four-way tie, France and Norway both out on goals scored.

Perhaps not surprisingly after all that, the Group B teams wilted in the semi-finals. Miriam scored an 88th-minute winner for Spain against Italy and Germany waltzed past Russia 8-0, Anja Mittag striking her sixth of the finals.

In front of a record 2,600 crowd in Vantaa, Germany were huge favourites as they had already set a goalscoring record for any UEFA final tournament. However, Jade made it 1-0 to Spain on 29 minutes, and although Annike Krahn equalised just before the break, Germany had no response to Iraia's 52nd-minute free-kick. However, Germany made up for that reverse in November, winning the 2nd FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup in Thailand. Spain fell with Italy in the group stage, while Russia reached the last eight.

http://www.uefa.com/womensunder19/history/season=2004/index.html#spain+spring+final+surprise

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