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1982 Under-21 EURO: England hold on in Bremen

England edged to a 5-4 aggregate win against Germany in the final to become Under-21 EURO champions for the first time.

Gary Owen, who scored twice in the first leg of the final, celebrates with the trophy
Gary Owen, who scored twice in the first leg of the final, celebrates with the trophy ©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

England 3-1 West Germany
(Owen 10 70, Fashanu 57; Völler 82)
West Germany 3-2 England
(Littbarski 53 80 84; Duxbury 50, Goddard 77)
(agg: 5-4 to England)

England held off a Pierre Littbarski-led comeback by West Germany in Bremen to claim the 1982 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. West Germany trailed 3-1 after the first leg in Sheffield, but a Littbarski hat-trick saw the deficit reduced to 5-4 at the Weserstadion. Dave Sexton's team held on to deny West Germany in a second successive final. The senior side, including Littbarski, had lost the FIFA World Cup final to Italy three months earlier.

England's achievement completed a staggering turnaround after their inexperienced side were defeated 4-0 by Romania in their opening group game. A 5-0 victory against Switzerland quickly changed the mood in the England camp and Sexton's side eventually cruised into the knockout rounds. A narrow 4-3 aggregate victory over Poland in the last eight then set up a semi-final tie against neighbours Scotland, which England edged 2-1 to reach their first final at this level.


West Germany's route to the final was similar to England's. They too lost their opening fixture, 1-0 in Bulgaria, before recovering with a 4-0 win against Austria and going on to command their group. In the quarter-finals they trailed Spain after a 1-0 defeat in Santa Cruz, but fought back in the return, winning 2-0. Rudi Völler scored twice in a remarkable 4-3 semi-final first leg victory against the USSR in Kharkov, before West Germany cruised to stunning 5-0 win at home.

Gary Owen scored twice and Justin Fashanu once as England jumped into a 3-0 lead in the first leg of the final in Sheffield. Völler's late strike gave the visitors hope going into the return, and Littbarski did his utmost to make the most of it. He scored a hat-trick as West Germany twice came from behind in front of 10,000 breathless fans in Bremen, but a 3-2 victory wasn't enough to deny England.