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1998 Under-21 EURO: Iván Pérez applies finishing touch

Spain beat Greece in the final to become Under-21 European champions for the second time.

Spain celebrate after winning the final in Bucharest
Spain celebrate after winning the final in Bucharest Getty Images

Greece 0-1 Spain
(Iván Pérez 65)
Steaua Stadium, Bucharest

Guti, Michel Salgado, Juan Carlos Valerón and Roger García all came to the fore as Spain claimed their second UEFA Under-21 European Championship trophy in Bucharest. Iñaki Sáez's well-drilled side's triumph was built on the bedrock of an impervious defence, which did not concede in a campaign that ended with a characteristically obdurate 1-0 victory against Greece in the final. Greece reaped their reward six years later, when four of the side played a part in the victorious UEFA EURO 2004 squad.


Marshalled by Barcelona goalkeeper Francesc Arnau, Spain conceded just six goals in eight games in qualifying - an impressive record, but their back line made even that look lax during the final tournament in Romania.

Goals were also hard to come by for the side's strikers and in the quarter-final victory against Russia they had to wait until six minutes from time before Iván Pérez earned a narrow 1-0 victory. They left it even later in the semi-finals where Víctor Sánchez's extra-time strike saw off Norway to seal Spain's second successive final appearance.

How the under-21 finals were won 1996-2017

There they met a Greece team that had only reached the final tournament courtesy of an away-goals play-off victory against England the previous November. Led by the excellent Georgios Karagounis, they were soon into their stride in Romania. The Panathinaikos midfielder scored the only goal of the game as Ioannis Kollias's side saw off Germany, including a youthful Michael Ballack, in the quarter-finals to set up a last-four meeting with the Netherlands.

Two goals from Nikolaos Liberopoulos helped them to a 3-0 victory against the Dutch, but the final was to prove a much tighter affair. A goalless first half left Greece frustrated and Spain seized on a lapse just before the hour mark when Iván Pérez stole in to break the deadlock. That sealed Spain's second title, but Greece's reward would come later - Karagounis, Traianos Dellas, Ioannis Goumas and Vassilios Lakis all playing a part in their nation's EURO 2004 triumph.