Spain comeback claims fifth Under-19 crown
Monday, August 1, 2011
Czech Republic 2-3 Spain (aet)
Ginés Meléndez's side twice trailed but Paco Alcácer came off the bench and struck two goals in the second half of extra time to secure the title.
Article top media content
Substitute Paco Alcácer scored twice in the second half of extra time as Spain came from behind on two occasions to finally overcome the Czech Republic and claim a fifth UEFA European Under-19 Championship title in an engrossing final.
After an even first half in Chiajna, the Czechs struck first seven minutes after half-time thanks to Ladislav Krejčí's fierce low shot. Spain, beaten in the 2010 final and seeking a fifth triumph in the competition – which means they would keep the trophy – pressed hard and got their reward in the 85th minute thanks to Jon Aurtenetxe's opportunistic strike. Substitute Patrik Lácha restored the Czech lead in the 97th minute, but Paco Alcácer replied 11 minutes later and decided a gripping contest in Spain's favour in the 115th minute.
The Czechs were first to threaten, a slick move down the left ending with Krejčí flashing a cross-shot past the far post. Spain produced some typically slick first-half interchanges, Pablo Sarabia a regular threat down the right while Álvaro Morata and Rubén Pardo also bristled with attacking menace.
The Czechs, however, regularly posed problems from set pieces, Jakub Brabec going close with a header from a corner early in the second period, although their 52nd-minute breakthrough came in open play. Substitute Martin Sladký started the move, winning possession just inside the Spain half, but the rest was all Krejčí's own work, the midfielder holding off three defenders to drill a left-foot shot across Edgar Badia and into the far corner.
Spain coach Ginés Meléndez promptly brought on Alcácer, the top scorer at last year's U17 finals, and the replacement nearly made an instant impact, Tomáš Koubek parrying a fierce shot at his near post. The No11 then steered Sarabia's delightful left-wing cross wide before being denied by another Koubek block, but Spain kept coming and finally levelled with five minutes left, left-back Aurtenetxe diverting in Pardo's volley from close range.
Meléndez's side might have won it without the need for extra time but instead their failure to cope with Krejčí led to them conceding for the second time seven minutes into the first additional period. The Czech No13 burst into the area and pulled the ball back for Lácha to slide low beyond Badia.
Again Spain would not admit defeat, Morata heading on for Alcácer to equalise with 12 minutes remaining, and seven minutes later the Valencia CF forward finally settled the contest. Another composed finish left Koubek with no chance, and took the trophy to Spain for good.