The final went to penalties for a sixth time in seven years – and on this occasion in England, it was Dutch spot-kick prowess that clinched a third U17 title for the Netherlands.
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For the sixth time in seven years the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final went to penalties – and here the Netherlands' spot-kick mastery ensured they equalled Spain's tally of three titles.
In a thrilling final, the Netherlands scored first against Italy only to have to equalise themselves with six minutes left to force penalties. The Dutch won the ensuing shoot-out 4-1 – their third success on spot kicks at these finals – having also beaten the Republic of Ireland in the last eight and hosts England in the semis.
The Netherlands had marked themselves out as contenders in their Group D opener, dispatching Germany 3-0 with two Daishawn Redan goals. Redan struck again as holders Spain were scalped 2-0, booking the Netherlands' last-eight spot with a game to spare. Spain recovered their form with a 5-1 thrashing of Germany, while a Brian Brobbey brace helped the much-changed Dutch see off a Serbia side already downed by both the Spaniards and Germany.
The other team to produce three group victories were Belgium, who overcame the Republic of Ireland 2-0, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0 and Denmark 1-0, so ending their Group C campaign with seven unanswered goals. Meanwhile, both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ireland defeated Denmark to set up a last-game decider. Troy Parrott, who had been Ireland's long-range hero against Denmark, scored a superb free-kick to help subdue the Bosnians 2-0.
Scandinavia had better fortune in Group B where Norway finished first and Sweden second, the Swedes' 1-0 last-day win against Portugal knocking out the 2016 champions. All three sides beat Slovenia, with Norway getting the better of Sweden and drawing 0-0 with Portugal.
Host nation England started Group A well, eclipsing both Israel and Italy 2-1, and they could afford a 1-0 loss to Switzerland and still go through. That was because Italy had ousted Switzerland 2-0 in their opener, and after both those sides saw off Israel, the Azzurri topped a three-way head-to-head tie on goal difference ahead of England and the eliminated Swiss.
The quarter-finals were tight affairs: Italy squeezed past Sweden 1-0, England did for Norway 2-0, Belgium came from behind to dethrone Spain 2-1, and Ireland took the Dutch to penalties. Adam Idah's first Irish kick was saved by Joey Koorevaar and both teams kept scoring until James Corcoran seemed to deny Redan what would have been the Dutch winner. However, Corcoran had moved early and received his second yellow card, and Redan promptly converted past stand-in keeper Oisin McEntee.
The Netherlands needed penalties again after a goalless semi with England; this shoot-out went to sudden death, where Koorevaar thwarted Folarin Balogun to give the Dutch a 6-5 win, their last two attempts converted by twins Jurriën and Quinten Timber. Italy prevailed 2-1 against Belgium, Yorbe Vertessen's equaliser and Edoardo Vergani's stunning clincher taking both players to a tournament-leading four finals goals.
Since all but one final since 2012, when extra time was abolished at this level, had gone to penalties, a decision in regulation time looked unlikely. However, Samuele Ricci and Alessio Riccardi notched superb goals in the space of three minutes just past the hour to put Italy 2-1 up following Quinten Timber's opener. Even so, with 16 minutes remaining, up popped Brobbey to restore parity, and for the third game running Koorevaar starred in the shoot-out, keeping out Italy's first two kicks. Kees van Wonderen's troops duly triumphed 4-1, having converted all 15 shoot-out attempts in England.