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Portugal persistence pays off

Portugal banished the memories of final defeats in 1988, 1990 and 1992 by lifting the trophy on penalties against Germany in Spain.

Rui Óscar scored the vital equaliser in the final for Portugal and played UEFA Champions League football with Boavista later in his career
Rui Óscar scored the vital equaliser in the final for Portugal and played UEFA Champions League football with Boavista later in his career ©AFP

Having lost three UEFA European Under-18 Championship finals in a row, Portugal were hoping to go one better in 1993 only to miss out in the group stage. A year on, though, their long wait for the title was ended.

Spain were picked as hosts, but the holders England did not even make it to the qualifying play-offs, finishing bottom of a group with France and Romania. Turkey, after a victory and final appearance in consecutive tournaments, missed out unbeaten behind Switzerland but Portugal eased through, their 10-1 aggregate against Iceland the most emphatic of the play-offs.

Portugal were drawn in Group A, and proved dominant, first beating France 3-1 as Sweden and the Netherlands drew 1-1. The Dutch then overcame France 3-2, Boudewijn Zenden scoring twice either side of a Patrick Kluivert goal, but Portugal defeated Sweden 2-0 to remain ahead. They needed only a draw with Sweden to reach the final, but won 1-0. However, France's 3-1 win against Sweden ensured the Netherlands held onto second place and qualified for the 1995 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Hosts Spain began well against Russia with a 4-2 win, Fernando Morientes among the scorers, as Germany beat Belarus 3-0. Germany then slipped up 2-1 against Russia, while Spain defeated Belarus 4-1 to move top. Russia beat Belarus 3-2 in their final game while Spain needed only a point against Germany. Although Morientes cancelled out Mustafa Dogan's first-half goal, Lars Ricken struck on 58 and 73 minutes to take Germany through by the narrowest of margins. Spain did pip Russia to second.

Russia therefore had to play off with France for fifth place and the remaining World Cup berth, Russia winning 2-0. Spain beat the Dutch 5-2 for bronze, but the final was a closer affair. Frank Gerster gave Germany a half-time lead, Rui Óscar's equaliser taking the game to penalties with Portugal prevailing 4-1, banishing the memories of their 1988, 1990 and 1992 final defeats, the second of which was on spot-kicks.

Spain and Portugal both lost in the semi-finals of the World Cup, to Argentina and Brazil respectively, although Portugal did finish third by coming from 2-0 down to beat their neighbours in the play-off.