Turkey emerged as deserving victors of the 2004/05 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, beating comeback kings the Netherlands.
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Turkey emerged as deserving victors of the 2004/05 UEFA European Under-17 Championship but there were significant moments of drama well before the finals in Italy's Pisa region.
In the Elite round Turkey, eliminating holders France, secured a 100 per cent record, matched by England. Belarus qualified with a game to spare, but in the other four groups only late goals ensured finals places for Croatia, Israel, Switzerland - knocking out unbeaten Spain who missed out for the first time in 18 years - and the Netherlands. Not only did the Netherlands strike twice late on to top Germany, but they had needed a timely equaliser against Turkey in the qualifying round to edge past Wales.
The Dutch were at it again in their opening finals fixture. Trailing 2-0 against Group B rivals Croatia, Niels Vorthoren and Martijn van der Laan struck in the final minute to secure a point. In the same pool Switzerland secured a 3-0 win against Israel. In Group A, England cruised past Belarus 4-0 while Turkey dominated against Italy, but could not score and fell to Andrea Russotto's emphatic finish. Fortunes changed two days later. Siarhei Kisly gave Belarus a 1-0 win against the hosts and Turkey overcame England 3-2 thanks to Nuri Sahin's late winner. In Group B Switzerland and the Netherlands drew 0-0, but the goals flowed in the other fixture as Israel led twice only to lose 4-2 to Croatia.
Israel were now out but took the lead against the Netherlands only to fall to a typical Dutch comeback as Ruud Kaiser's side won 2-1. The Swiss knew a point against Croatia would be enough to take them through and scored first. Croatia levelled before the break and went ahead through Dejan Lovren, who then put through his own net on the hour. At this point both teams would have topped the Netherlands but three late Croatian goals ensured the Dutch went through at Switzerland's expense.
All four Group A teams could still progress, but unfortunately for Belarus, a Nuri-inspired Turkey were in their stride, and after Aleh Veratsila's sending-off for handball, a hat-trick from Tevfik Köse and two late Deniz Yılmaz goals made it 5-1. England needed only to draw against the hosts but Russotto's penalty late in the first half was decisive despite Italian goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso's dismissal for dissent.
Croatia's dubious reward for winning Group B was a semi-final against Turkey. Özgürcan Özcan struck a goal in each half and although Croatian substitute Grgur Radoš pulled one back, Murat Duruer's header made it 3-1. The encounter between Italy and the Netherlands was goalless in extra time until substitute Melvin Zaalman headed the Dutch to victory. Italy had the consolation of a 2-1 third-place play-off victory against Croatia after extra time. But the main prize was Turkey's after second-half efforts from Yılmaz and six-goal tournament leading scorer Köse saw off the Netherlands 2-0 in Pontedera.