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Odebrecht saves the day

Germany held on to their title thanks to a thrilling victory against Norway in the last Under-18 final.

Viola Odebrecht was Germany's hero
Viola Odebrecht was Germany's hero ©Getty Images

A record 33 teams took part in what proved to be the last UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship – but the latter stages had some familiar names.

The qualifying form was the same as the previous year, with three stages and a number of teams given byes. Belarus, Hungary, Turkey, Austria, Iceland, Wales, Scotland and Switzerland came through the first round, the latter two in a mini-tournament played on artificial turf in the Faroe Islands.

Of those teams, Switzerland kept their run going a stage futher, defeating Group B1 runners-up Yugoslavia and eliminating Belarus and Israel. Inaugural winners Denmark came through behind the Czech Republic, with England, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, 2000 runners-up Spain, Belgium and Russia also successful.

In the third round, Group A3 looked the toughest, matching Spain with England, 1998 winners France, the hosts, and 1999 champions Sweden. England, the only team not to have been in the 2000 top four, beat Sweden 1-0 in their first game as the other teams drew 3-3, and then held Spain 2-2 while France lost 4-1 to Sweden. England then drew 1-1 with the hosts, but Spain's 2-1 win against Sweden took them into the finals on goals scored.

Progress was easier for holders Germany, Norway and Denmark as they won all their matches away from home. Norway looked to reverse that trend in the finals, now a straight knockout, as they were picked as hosts. Things went Norway's way in the semi-finals, Solfrid Andersen striking the only goal in Moss against Denmark ten minutes from time. It was to be hosts against holders in the final, with Germany defeating Spain 2-0 courtesy of goals from Patrizia Barucha and Petra Wimbersky.

Iben Gade's 74th-minute goal for Denmark gave them a 1-0 third-place play-off victory against Spain in Lillestrøm, but the real interest was in the game that followed. Marion Wilmes, who had scored in the final 12 months earlier, repeated the trick to give Germany a 1-0 lead on nine minutes, but Marie Knutsen levelled in the 32nd minute. Just before the hour, Wimbersky restored Germany's advantage, and although Knutsen equalised again on 83 minutes, Viola Odebrecht swfitly struck to ensure Silvia Neid's side retained the trophy.

It was also to prove an omen, as Wimbersky and Knutsen, as well as Sarah Günther and Trine Rønning, would all go on to play in the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005 final between these nations – Germany again successfully retaining their title, with Neid as assistant coach.