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1980 Under-21 EURO: Soviet success worth the wait

The Soviet Union fell in qualifying for the first Under-21 EURO two years earlier but recovered to triumph in 1980.

A star of the USSR's winning side, Anatoliy Demyanenko went on to win 80 caps and play in the finals of the UEFA European Championship and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
A star of the USSR's winning side, Anatoliy Demyanenko went on to win 80 caps and play in the finals of the UEFA European Championship and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup ©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

East Germany 0-0 USSR
USSR 1-0 East Germany

(Susloparov 50)
(agg: 1-0 to USSR)

The last winners of the old European Under-23 Championship in 1976, the Soviet Union fell in qualifying for the first U21 event two years later but recovered to triumph in 1980.

Familiar lineup
Twenty-five teams entered the 1978-1980 competition, with six of the eight quarter-finalists from the preceding edition making progress – Yugoslavia (winners), East Germany (runners-up), England (semi-finalists), plus Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Italy. The 1980 semi-finals again featured England, East Germany and Yugoslavia, with the USSR completing the quartet. England had beaten Scotland 2-1 on aggregate, Yugoslavia edged past Czechoslovakia 3-2 overall while East Germany overturned a 2-0 loss in Hungary with a 3-0 success. For their part, the eventual victors defeated Italy 3-1 at home before a 0-0 draw in Bologna.

GOLDEN PLAYER: ANATOLIY DEMYANENKO


Semi-finals
East Germany then booked their place in a second successive final by scalping England, winning 2-1 in Sheffield and 1-0 in Jena. In the other semi-final, Yugoslavia's reign ended as they went down 3-0 in the Soviet Union before succumbing 1-0 on home soil. With both finalists having conceded only four goals in eight matches, a tight contest always looked likely and so it proved.

Narrow margin
The first leg in Rostock finished 0-0 but the USSR lost goalkeeper Victor Tchanov to a red card with five minutes left. However, at Moscow's Dinamo Stadium two weeks later, Valeri Novikov took over in goal for the hosts and, 50 minutes in, Yuri Susloparov put them ahead. East Germany tried to rally, but in a two-minute spell either side of the hour, both Rainer Troppa and Ronald Kreer were dismissed. The USSR then had Vitali Darasselia sent off with 20 minutes remaining, yet the goal from Susloparov – later to appear at the 1982 FIFA World Cup – was enough to ensure East Germany were second-best again.