Spain 2-3 France: First French title after Women's U17 EURO final thriller
Friday, May 26, 2023
France raced into a 3-0 lead but saw their advantage almost immediately cut to one before claiming their first WU17 EURO title.
Article top media content
France became only the fourth different nation to win the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship but only after withstanding a quickfire comeback from Spain, beaten in their second final in a row.
64' Joseph scores for France on the break
74' Joseph doubles lead
78' Maeline Mendy makes it three from spot
79' Vicky pulls one back
80' Another from Vicky
90+6' Spain's Aïcha sent off
Match in brief: France survive Spain fightback
France, unchanged from their 10-2 semi-final win against Switzerland, became the first side in Estonia not to fall behind to Spain within nine minutes. The reigning world champions did go close just before the half-hour, Pau Comendador heading a high cross straight at Alyssa Fernandes from close range.
Spain, who had won every game in their run to this final even in qualifying, kept attacking. Only an excellent saving tackle from Lou Autin denied Vicky López, who last year tasted penalty shoot-out defeat in the final by Germany but went on to inspire her country to FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup glory in India alongside Ainhoa Alguacil and Cris Librán, both also starting today.
However, despite having the better chances throughout the opening hour, Spain found themselves behind in a WU17 EURO game for the first time since last year's final. It came from their own corner move that broke down in the France box; in a swift counter, Mélinda Mendy played Joseph clear and she calmly beat Alazne Estensoro.
Joseph scored again ten minutes later, touching in after racing on to Autin's long pass. The third soon arrived as Vicky fouled Maeline Mendy in the box and the France captain herself converted the penalty to join Joseph on a finals-leading five goals.
That seemed that but Vicky had other ideas. First she conjured up some space a curled a superb effort past Fernandes. Seconds later a corner came to the Spain skipper outside the box and she unerringly lobbed in. Vicky had a late chance blocked in the box but, after Spain had Aïcha Cámara sent off for bringing down Naolia Traore when through, France were able to celebrate joining the roll of honour, adding this title to their 2012 U-17 World Cup success.
Peggy Provost, France coach: "I am really happy for the team, for the staff, for the federation. We have played a perfect match, carrying out the tactical plan we had. We were able to score and see out the game.
"We are happy to make history in winning our first European Women's U17 title so we are happy to make French football history."
Liana Joseph, France double goalscorer: "I am very happy. We didn't do all of that for nothing, we went all the way, and we didn't give up. We suffered in the first half, but we managed to come back in the second half. I am very happy for my team.
"It is incredible [to score two goals]. I couldn't do it in the first half, I wasn't focused but I felt re-energised in the second half. I did it for me, for my family, for my team and I am very happy.
"I was stressed [in the last minutes], I was telling the team to clear the ball. There was no point in playing any which way, we needed to clear the ball. We managed to stay strong, and we did it."
Kenio Gonzalo, Spain coach: "Right now we are sad because Spain always want to win and get the victory but despite that sadness, I'm very proud of the team. I have to thank the team because when you leave your soul out there, if you give your spirit and give everything, you can't complain.
"You can just say that you're proud and thank the players and everyone who has supported us. A lot of Spaniards came and made us feel at home, as well as the local people who supported us. That's what sport is about, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. When you lose, you have to congratulate the winner and work hard to hope to come back next year."
Cris Librán, Spain midfielder: "I feel sad but I'm proud of the work we've done together as a team. We've become a family, we gave everything we had out on the pitch and you could see that. They scored three goals but we also managed to score twice in the final 15 minutes and I think we deserved more. But I'm proud of everyone.
"We could hear the supporters, who were cheering us on the whole 90 minutes. We're proud of them and I'd like to congratulate France on their success."
- France became only the fourth nation to win the title after Germany (8 times), Spain (4) and Poland (1).
- Spain were in a record tenth final, one ahead of Germany
- Spain had been unbeaten in 20 WU17 EURO games in regulation time (not counting penalty shoot-outs) including qualifying, since a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the 2019 semi-finals; Germany hold the record for longest undefeated run with 22 matches.
- France became the first team in a WU17 EURO game, including qualifying, to prevent Spain scoring a first-half goal since that 3-1 semi-final loss to the Netherlands in 2019.
- Joseph, Maeline Mendy and Vicky finished level as joint finals top scorers on five goals. Including qualifying, Mendy and Joseph were equal with England's Ava Baker and Germany's Estrella Merino Gonzalez on ten.
Spain: Estensoro; Noemi Bejarano, Aïcha, Daniela Martínez, Martina González (Marisa 76); Librán, Daniela Arques, Ainhoa Alguacil (Ortega 69); Pau (Segura 46), Cris Librán, Vicky López
France: Fernandes; Delcroix, Sangare, Autin, Job; Effa Effa (Rambaud 73), Ben Khalid, Mélinda Mendy (Lushimba Bilombi 82), Joseph (Swierot 90); Traore, Maeline Mendy
WU17 EURO champions
Eight-team tournament (hosts)
2022/23: France (Estonia)
2021/22: Germany (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
2019/20 & 2020/21: No final tournament
2018/19: Germany (Bulgaria)
2017/18: Spain (Lithuania)
2016/17: Germany (Czech Republic)
2015/16: Germany (Belarus)
2014/15: Spain (Iceland)
2013/14: Germany (England)
Four-team tournament in Nyon