In recent years this tournament has always had one team quickly emerge from the pack to claim the title, but 2010 was a more even affair – a triumph for calm endeavour. Such fine margins meant two teams returned home early despite being unbeaten and that a pair of big defensive errors in the final would prove decisive.
Coming into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's first UEFA tournament, Italy coach Corrado Corradini said a lack of Scandinavian representation reflected how "women's football is heading south". The assessment proved ill-founded, for now, as three-time winners Germany, holders England, France and the Netherlands emerged from a group stage where the competition attendance record was smashed as 8,000 turned out for the National Arena opener.
Spain had their chances to keep southern interests alive but failure to beat a Netherlands side all but through gave France a reprieve – Jean-Michel Degrange's team, beaten 2-0 in their opener by the Jong Oranje, did not look back. After negotiating a penalty shoot-out against Germany their reward was a final with England, victors in similar style over the Netherlands. Again they showed great composure, keeping their cool after Jessica Holbrook had given the holders a deserved lead midway through the first half.
Parity was soon restored as Rose Lavaud, who only discovered she was playing an hour before the game, capitalised on a Lucia Bronze error – fatally, England imploded. Ten minutes after the interval Rebecca Spencer's poor clearance afforded Pauline Crammer the simplest of finishes and though the goalkeeper would make partial amends the damage had been done. Les Bleuettes had their second title.
A third final in four years meant England could console themselves with the fact that they are now firmly established among the elite at this level. The Jong Oranje have further to go but having lost five of their six previous finals games, 2010 marked a watershed. So too Scotland, who bowed out with their first point, and while FYROM conceded 19 in their three games they did provide the goal of the tournament: star player Natasa Andonova scoring from 40 metres against France.
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