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Russia celebrate U17 triumph

Czech Republic 2-2 Russia (aet, Russia win 5-3 on penalties)
Igor Kolyvanov's team claim the trophy on spot-kicks.

Prudnikov heroics
Aleksandr Prudnikov's goal early in the second half looked good enough for victory before a Tomáš Pekhart strike deep in added time forced the extra 20 minutes. Aleksandr Marenich made it 2-1 and although Tomáš Necid swiftly headed his fifth goal of the finals, impressive Russia goalkeeper Evgeni Pomazan saved from Petr Wojnar in the shoot-out as substitute Evgeni Korotaev converted the decisive spot-kick.

Pekhart preferred
Although their leading scorer Necid was available to start after suspension, Czech coach Jakub Dovalil rewarded strikers Pekhart and Jan Vošahlík for their goals in the 2-0 last-four win against Spain by naming an unchanged lineup. Russia's Igor Kolyvanov brought in midfielder Pavel Mochalin for the suspended Semen Fomin and selected striker Prudnikov for Korotaev after he shook off his bad form to claim the semi-final winner as a substitute against Germany.

Tentative start
Considering the stature of the occasion a tentative opening exchange was maybe inevitable. Prudnikov was working hard up front for Russia and on 18 minutes he was played through by Igor Gorbatenko, but Czech goalkeeper Marek Štech advanced to gather.

Pomazan save
AC Sparta Praha midfielder Martin Zeman also impressed early on, and produced a clever curling free-kick from a wide angle that Pomazan dived to palm away on the half-hour. Dmitri Ryzhov and Prudnikov then combined well but Ondrej Mazuch made a vital tackle. Wojnar headed over from a tight angle in the only real chance in the late stages of the first half as the sides cancelled each other out, strong pressure from defenders forcing mistakes from attackers.

Deadlock broken
Russia replaced Ryzhov with Marenich at half-time to inject life into their attack, but Pekhart had the first chance of the half with a strong shot just wide four minutes in. However, Russia broke and Prudnikov picked up the ball in the box and struck a confident effort past Štech. The Czechs now had to respond, and Necid was prepared for action, but before he arrived for Vošahlík on 56 minutes Wojnar had a strong shot over and then forced a diving Pomazan save. Necid then almost made an immediate impact, cutting back for Pekhart to shoot not far past the post.

Timely intervention
The Czech Republic were pushing hard and Necid headed over a typically well-taken Zeman free-kick. Midfielder Martin Holek came on for defender Jan Polák as Dovalil plotted to save the game, but that left space at the back that Gorbatenko so nearly exploited as he was played through by Prudnikov, but his strike was off target. Gorbatenko was then withdrawn for the more defensive Denis Scherbak ten minutes from time, and the Czech attacks became more constant and more urgent. At the other end Prudnikov so nearly sealed it, but his shot was wild after Marenich's intelligent ball. It seemed that would not matter, but deep into added time Pekhart headed in a corner.

Extra-time excitement
However, Russia did not make this final without possessing some steel. And six minutes into extra time Štech could only parry a Prudnikov shot and Marenich pounced to restore their lead. But before the turnaround Necid leapt to head in despite Pomazan's best efforts. So for the first time since 2002 the U17 final went to penalties, and although Russia had a scare when Roman Amirkhanov was denied, he was allowed to retake his penalty and the title was theirs.