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England end wait in style

England secured their first Under-17 title with a 2-1 comeback win against Spain in Liechtenstein, completing a campaign of 11 straight victories including five in the finals themselves.

England captain Conor Coady lifts the trophy
England captain Conor Coady lifts the trophy ©Sportsfile

England had not won the UEFA European Under-17 Championship nor its U16 predecessor but they broke their duck in style in Liechtenstein.

They faced Spain in the final, both sides having won all four of their respective games at Vaduz's Rheinpark Stadium. Spain – watched by their senior squad who made the short trip from their pre-FIFA World Cup training base in nearby Austria – dominated early on. Winger Gerard's 22nd-minute shot was deflected in by England defender Andre Wisdom, sparking hopes they could match their 1-0 win when these teams met in the 2007 decider.

However, Wisdom made amends by heading the equaliser on the half-hour and early in the second period Connor Wickham's fine individual goal proved enough to give England their first European men's title since the U18 Championship in 1993 – the year most of the victorious squad in Liechtenstein were born.

The hosts themselves, unusually, were not represented at the finals having decided in the spring to withdraw as they could not put out a competitive team. That allowed France to take the extra qualifying place from the elite round as best runners-up, their record a goal better than holders Germany, pipped in their group by Switzerland.

In fact Switzerland went into the competition as global champions, their previous season's squad having won the FIFA U-17 World Cup, but hit by injury and suspension they lost all their games in Group A. Spain topped the pool with France second after beating Portugal 1-0 in what would prove the decisive game. England won Group B with Turkey edging the Czech Republic to take second spot and Greece fourth on their U17 finals debut.

As in 2007, England beat France in the semi-finals as two first-half Wickham goals put them on course for a 2-1 win; a Paco double helped Spain defeat ten-man Turkey 3-1. Valencia CF youngster Paco drew a blank in the final but six goals in Liechtenstein were three more than anyone else mustered and his tally of 14 including qualifying was a competition record.