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New name, same champions

Germany picked up in the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship where they had left off in the U18 event.

New name, same champions
New name, same champions ©UEFA.com

The UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship was born in 2001/02, replacing the U18 event due to an age-group registration change, and for the first time the final tournament expanded to eight teams with the hosts picked in advance. Sweden, who had taken the U18 title in 1999 on home soil, were selected.

Iceland and Israel won the first games at U19 level, and went through with Scotland, Wales, Turkey and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the second qualifying round, Russia were pipped by Belgium and Israel in Moscow, while Switzerland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia advanced from other pools.

The 16 teams in the third qualifying round knew only three of the four group runners-up would make the finals. The first two pools were played in November, France securing nine points and Switzerland six against Italy and Poland in Group A1. Denmark and England qualified from Group A3, the latter pipping the Czech Republic with a concluding 3-0 win.

Switzerland had to wait until February, as Norway secured only five points in following Spain home in Group A4, Belgium and Yugoslavia departing. With one game to go in the remaining section in March, holders Germany had six points and the Netherlands four. The Dutch needed to win, but Germany gained a 3-0 victory and although Finland claimed second place, Norway had bettered their four-point tally.

The opening day of the finals was a cracker, Barbara Müller scoring a hat-trick for Germany to beat France 3-2, while Erika Vazquez Morales' added-time strike ensured Spain beat hosts Sweden 1-0. Germany ensured progress to the semi-finals by overcoming Spain 2-0, and Sweden and France drew 0-0. The hosts then departed as a 16-year-old Anja Mittag scored the only goal for Germany, while France beat Spain 2-1 to also go through.

In Group B, England beat 2001 runners-up Norway 3-1 and Denmark defeated Switzerland 3-0 to set the tone. Denmark then overcame England 2-1, with Norway defeating Switzerland by the same score. Although England then fell to a last-gasp 4-3 loss to Switzerland, Denmark's 3-1 win against Norway meant England joined the first-placed sides in the semi-finals in a three-way head-to-head tie-breaker.

A single goal decided both semi-finals − Anne Sabel's for Germany against England and Claire Morel's for France versus Denmark − though both beaten sides had the consolation of knowing they would join the finalists in the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup later that year in Canada (where Germany reached the last four and the other Europeans the quarter-finals).

More pressing for Germany, though, was the question of defending their continental title in Helsingborg. Sandrine Roquet gave France an early lead, but Isabelle Bachor equalised before the break and Müller and Viola Odebrecht − Germany's final match-winner the previous year − secured a 3-1 victory.