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Ukraine delight in maiden triumph

The 8th UEFA European Under-19 Championship ended with a new name on the trophy, Ukraine overcoming England in front of more than 25,000 spectators to become the first team to triumph on home soil.

Ukraine celebrate their victory in Donetsk
Ukraine celebrate their victory in Donetsk ©Sportsfile

The 8th UEFA European Under-19 Championship ended in novel fashion with Ukraine defeating England in front of more than 25,000 spectators to become the first team to claim the trophy on home soil.

The big qualifying-round surprise was the elimination of 2008 runners-up Italy. Holders Germany lost out to four-time winners Spain in the Elite round, where England and Turkey won all three games. Regular participants France and Serbia also qualified, as did Switzerland and, for the first time, Slovenia. The finals draw put the latter two teams in Group A along with the hosts and England, with Spain, France, Serbia and Turkey in Group B.

Group A's Matchday 1 fixtures ended all square, Sébastien Wüthrich's added-time goal earning Switzerland a 1-1 draw against England while Slovenia held the hosts 0-0. Late goals from Alexandre Pasche and Orhan Mustafi gave Switzerland a 2-1 success against Slovenia in the second round of games, when Kyrylo Petrov's double ensured a 2-2 draw between Ukraine and England. That meant the Swiss needed only a point against the hosts, but Serhiy Rybalka pounced five minutes from time to take ten-man Ukraine through. England in contrast made serene progress, a 7-1 win against Slovenia setting a new finals record with Danny Welbeck and Nathan Delfouneso each scoring twice.

In Group B, France's Yacine Brahimi and Danijel Aleksić of Serbia swapped first-half goals as their teams drew 1-1 in Mariupol on Matchday 1, when Spain defeated Turkey 2-1 thanks to two goals in three minutes from Iago Falqué and Joselu. The tables were turned three days later, Serbia's Milan Milanović finding the net either side of half-time to inflict a 2-1 reverse on Spain, France and Turkey drawing 1-1. All four sides could therefore still qualify but it was France and Serbia who progressed thanks to 1-0 wins against Spain and Turkey respectively.

The semi-finals paired Serbia with Ukraine and France with England, and Les Petits Bleus made a perfect start in Donetsk when Magaye Gueye gave them an eighth-minute advantage. Henri Lansbury levelled shortly before half-time, and the 71st-minute dismissal of France right-back Sébastien Corchia proved decisive, Delfouneso scoring twice in the first period of extra time and France ending with eight men after Ryad Boudebouz and Abdel El Kaoutari collected late red cards. In the second semi-final, Yevgeniy Shakhov put Ukraine in front inside 60 seconds and, though Aleksić levelled, Denys Garmash scored late in each half to take the hosts through to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Illychivets Stadium.

There was more for the home crowd to cheer at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium in Donetsk three days later, Garmash and Dmytro Korkishko supplying assured finishes early in each half to give Ukraine their first youth trophy. "We've had a real spirit throughout the whole championship," said the victorious coach Yuriy Kalitvintsev. "The pressure from the fans made us a bit nervous but I'm happy for my team to make mistakes and play badly if they win."