Spain end Germany hoodoo

After a string of final losses to Germany, Spain turned the tables in Lithuania in 2018 thanks to two-goal Eva Navarro.

Spain celebrate their final win
©Sportsfile

Spain won their fourth UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship in 2017/18 – but to do so they had to break a certain hoodoo.

In the 2013/14, 2015/16 and 2016/17 finals, Spain had come up against Germany and lost each time on penalties after a 0-0 draw. This time in Lithuania, the two nations – who combined had won all but one of the titles since this competition began in 2007/08 – met again in the final, but here two second-half Eva Navarro goals ensured it was Toña Is's Spain that lifted the trophy.

Navarro was the sole player who took part in the 2017 final to appear in the decider 12 months later. Another would have done in the shape of Barcelona's Claudia Pina, whose 15 goals in qualifying took her career tally to 20, equalling Vivianne Miedema's competition record. Yet the Spain striker was ruled out of the finals injured, and it looked like she might be missed when they opened the tournament with a 0-0 Group B draw against Italy.

Final highlights: Germany 0-2 Spain
Final highlights: Germany 0-2 Spain

However, Spain were to beat England 2-1 with a late Navarro finish and she added two more in a 5-0 defeat of Poland. England, who been held by Poland after conceding in added time, pipped that side to second place as they saw off Italy 4-0 with an Ebony Salmon hat-trick.

Germany started Group A by falling behind to debutants Finland but Shekiera Martinez netted twice in the last nine minutes to help the holders prevail 2-1. They next faced the Netherlands, who had dispatched hosts Lithuania (featuring in their first women's finals at any level) 9-0, and the Dutch were 2-0 up with seven minutes left before another Germany recovery, Martinez getting a goal and Laura Donhauser equalising deep in stoppage time.

Semi-final highlights: Germany 8-0 England
Semi-final highlights: Germany 8-0 England

Finland overcame Lithuania 4-0, then squeezed past the Netherlands 2-1 to progress behind Germany, whose 8-0 pasting of the hosts included a Martinez hat-trick – making her the first player to score in all three of her team's group games at a WU17 final tournament.

Remarkably Germany matched that scoreline in their semi with England, Martinez claiming a second consecutive hat-trick to reach nine goals, not just a WU17 record but also equalling the most goals in any UEFA football final tournament – previously held jointly by France's Michel Platini (1984 UEFA European Championship) and Russia's Elena Danilova (2005 Women's U19 EURO).

Semi-final highlights: Spain 1-0 Finland
Semi-final highlights: Spain 1-0 Finland

Spain had it tougher against Finland, who defended stoutly with Anna Koivunen saving a Paula Arana penalty before Navarro's 52nd-minute strike claimed a 1-0 win and a fifth straight final appearance. Finland had the consolation of coming from behind to edge out England 2-1 for third place and a 2018 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup berth alongside Spain and Germany.

Meanwhile, Germany had the better of the first half of the final but just as in the semis Spain were able to show their teeth early in the second, as Arana's through ball found Navarro and the skipper finished with aplomb. Martinez was to be frustrated in her bid for an unprecedented tenth finals goal and with seven minutes left Navarro's brilliant solo effort sealed Spain's fourth title at this level.

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