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German reign begins

Germany beat Spain 4-2 in the first one-off final, beginning their long reign as champions of this event.

Petra Wimbersky starred for Germany in 2000
Petra Wimbersky starred for Germany in 2000 ©AFP

By its third season, the UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship had grown into a 32-team competition with qualifying split into three rounds.

Through from the first stage came Turkey, Moldova, the Republic of Ireland, Iceland, Belgium, Slovakia, Scotland and Wales to join 12 teams entering in the second round. Of those initial qualifiers, only Ireland survived to reach the third stage, winning Group B1 in Yugoslavia to progress along with Poland.

Italy, third in 1999, also came through along with former quarter-finalists Finland and England, plus Switzerland, Spain, Russia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine. Inaugural winners Denmark, former runners-up France and Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and holders Sweden were waiting for them.

Spain, already on their best run in the tournament, were the first team through, pipping Norway on goal difference in a pool also containing England and Ireland. France defeated Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Russia to progress, while Germany did not concede a goal against Finland, Denmark and Ukraine. All those three winners were mini-tournament hosts, as were Sweden, who had a perfect defensive record against the Czechs, Italy and the Netherlands.

The leading pair from 1999 − Germany and Sweden − made the best starts to the group stage, defeating Spain 2-0 and France 2-1 respectively. In their second game, Sweden took just two minutes to take the lead against Spain, but their opponents rallied and won 3-1, Laura del Rio turning the tide with two goals early in the second half.

Germany successfully completed a second victory, defeating the hosts 3-1 with Petra Wimbersky claiming the crucial third. A ten-minute Del Rio hat-trick late in the first half gave Spain a 4-0 half-time lead against France in their final group game, and although the hosts pulled two back, Spain prevailed. Indeed, they were into the final, as Germany played out a 0-0 draw that ended Sweden's reign.

Boulogne-sur-Mer had staged Germany's group win against Spain, now the two met again in the same venue for the first one-off final in this tournament's history. Jennifer Meier, who had struck the second eight days earlier, gave Germany a 13th-minute lead, doubled on the half-hour by Marion Wilmes.

Del Rio gave Spain hope with a goal just before the break, but 11 minutes from time Sabine Färber, just on as a substitute, made it 3-1 and Meier put Germany out of reach seconds later, though there was still time for Del Rio to end the tournament with her seventh goal in three games. A long German reign had begun, while Spain's wait for a title at this level would last another four years.