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Sweden squeeze home

Sweden won the second UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship, pipping Germany in the final mini-tournament on home soil.

Malin Gustafsson (left) scored six times against Bosnia-Herzegovina
Malin Gustafsson (left) scored six times against Bosnia-Herzegovina ©Getty Images

In the second UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship, 27 nations were hopeful of taking the title from inaugural winners Denmark.

As in the previous season, the preliminary round started with a goalscoring flurry. In the very first game, Russia came from 2-0 down to hold Group 5 hosts Finland before defeating Lithuania 14-0. Finland now needed to better that to progress, and promptly claimed a tournament record 20-0 win − five players scoring hat-tricks and 15 goals coming after the break.

Previous record holders Sweden responded in kind 18 days later with a 20-0 scoreline of their own against Bosnia-Herzegovina: Malin Gustafsson and Helena Hasselberg both striking six goals each. They and Finland were eventually joined in the last eight by unbeaten group winners Italy, France, England, Norway, Germany and holders Denmark.

England were the only team not in their first quarter-finals, and they made amends for a loss on goal difference at this stage in the previous edition by edging past the Netherlands by the same reckoning. However, their campaign went no further as a 3-1 home loss to Norway was followed by a 1-0 reverse in Kolbotn.

By then Denmark's reign was over as having already lost 3-1 at home to Sweden, they fell 5-2 in the return − a game that was goalless at the break. France, beaten finalists in 1998, also lost, because despite a 2-1 first-leg win against Germany, they were overwhelmed 5-0 in Oberkirchen, conceding the last two goals after defender Sonia Bompastor had received her second yellow card.

Italy completed the last-four lineup by eliminating Finland on away goals. A 0-0 home draw was followed by a 1-1 scoreline in Vaasa, with Simona Sodini's 31st-minute opener rendering Jenni Sibelius's late strike for Finland worthless. The four survivors now travelled to Östergotland in Sweden for a mini-tournament that was, uniquely, to decide the champion. Italy set the early initiative, defeating the hosts 3-1 despite being reduced to ten players late on, while Germany beat Norway 2-1.

Two days later, Hasselberg struck eight minutes from time to give Sweden a 1-0 win against Germany, allowing Italy to open up a one-point lead thanks to a scoreless draw against a Norway side who had Anita Eftedal sent off. With the last games played simulateously, Italy knew they could secure the title with victory against Germany, but Marion Wilmes and Tanja Wörle struck in the last 28 minutes for Silvia Neid's side.

Had Norway held on to the 1-0 lead against Sweden given to them on seven minutes by future senior star Trine Rønning, Germany would have taken the title. However, Hasselberg equalised 13 minutes later and just after the half-hour Ida-Linn Mats gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage they never lost, first place in the group and the championship − Germany denied the title on head-to-head record.