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Glory again for Portugal

Portugal had come close to winning their second European U18 Championship title in both 1997 and 1998 but their wait ended a year later.

João Paulo struck the winner for Portugal in the final
João Paulo struck the winner for Portugal in the final ©Getty Images

Portugal had come close to winning their second UEFA European Under-18 Championship title in both 1997 and 1998. A year after the latter competition their wait ended.

Sweden were selected as hosts, and holders the Republic of Ireland qualified for the tournament, defeating neighbours Northern Ireland 2-1 in both legs of their play-off. However, 1998 runners-up Germany finished behind Norway in their group, while England were pipped by Spain on goal difference.

The hosts were in Group A, and the opening day finished goalless as Portugal and Greece produced the same stalemate as Sweden and France. Greece then drew 1-1 with France but the hosts fell 3-1 to Portugal, who then beat France 1-0 to go through. Greece drew again, 1-1 against Sweden, to finish second.

Ireland began Group B with a 1-0 win against Spain, Italy doubling that margin against first-time qualifiers Georgia. On Matchday 2 Italy led twice in the first half against Spain, but needed a last-gasp Mattia Rinaldini equaliser for a 3-3 draw, with Ireland and Georgia also sharing six goals. Italy's game against Ireland was therefore decisive, and the Azzurrini won it 2-0, with late goals from Mattia Graffiedi and Enzo Maresca. Spain defeated Georgia 4-1 to finish third in the pool.

Though Ireland had lost their crown, they did beat Greece 1-0 for third place thanks to Clive Delaney's 47th-minute effort. In the final there was also only one goal, as João Paulo struck on 33 minutes for Portugal, who held on despite Carlos Semedo's red card with 25 minutes left.