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Spain savour double delight

Spain became the first side to win successive U19 titles with victory in the 2006/07 final in Austria, their fourth triumph in the competition's six seasons.

Spain savour double delight
Spain savour double delight ©UEFA.com

Spain became the first side to win successive UEFA European Under-19 Championship titles with victory in the 2006/07 final tournament in Austria – their fourth triumph in six seasons of the competition.

The side Spain overcame in the final in Linz, Greece, had started their campaign back in the qualifying round. The top two in each of the 12 sections plus the best third-placed side overall – the Czech Republic – were joined by Spain, England and Italy in the Elite round, where Group 6 was the first to conclude, France claiming first place. Russia, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Serbia and Greece subsequently booked their berths for the finals in Austria, the draw for which left the hosts in Group A along with Spain, Greece and Portugal.

Austrian hopes suffered an early setback as they opened their tournament with a 2-0 loss against Spain while Greece ran out 1-0 winners against Portugal. The Matchday 2 fixtures both ended 1-1, between Austria and Greece and Spain and Portugal, meaning a concluding goalless draw between Spain and Greece was enough to send both into the semi-finals despite Portugal's 2-0 defeat of Austria.

Germany and France took early command of Group B, the former overcoming Russia 3-2 and a Kévin Monnet-Paquet hat-trick inspiring Les Bleuettes to come from two down to defeat Serbia 5-2. The two Matchday 2 victors shared a 1-1 draw in the second round of fixtures, when Serbia overwhelmed Russia 6-2, before France's goalless draw with Russia ensured their progress. It was insufficient to earn first place, however, Sidney Sam's last-gasp strike giving Germany a 3-2 win against Serbia.

Both sides were to be disappointed in the semi-finals, Andreas Lampropoulos heading in a last-minute corner to give ten-man Greece a 3-2 victory against Germany in Steyr. Spain's substitute goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo was the hero in Pasching, saving from Monnet-Paquet and Quentin Othon as Spain converted all four of their kicks in a penalty shoot-out after a goalless 120 minutes. The final in Linz was as tight as the first meeting between Spain and Greece had been with one goal enough to settle it, Daniel Parejo's clever first-half free-kick giving Spain yet another victory.

It was an eighth European Championship success in 19 years with Spain's youth sides for coach Juan Santisteban, standing in for Ginés Meléndez with the latter – and almost half of the squad that had qualified for Austria – in Canada for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. "Three months ago we won the U17s so this is the second victory for our country and for me personally," said Santisteban, who became the second coach to win both UEFA youth titles in the same year after Brian Kerr achieved the feat with the Republic of Ireland in 1998. "We never play well in a final – you just play to win."