The 2009 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship was a step into the unknown as Belarus hosted its first final tournament – it did not disappoint.
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The 2009 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship was a step into the unknown as Belarus hosted its first final tournament – it did not disappoint. Over the course of 13 days the competition records were rewritten with a nine-goal win, unprecedented attendances and, at the end of it, an eighth team with their name etched on the trophy.
Coming into the tournament speculation about likely winners among the coaches brought the usual chorus of "Germany", but the five-time champions soon came unstuck against a Ramona Bachmann-inspired Switzerland team. Well-fancied France and the hosts in their maiden finals made up a tough Group A lineup, but it was from an apparently even Group B that the finalists emerged in the shape of slow-starting Sweden and England.
England approached the showpiece as real favourites, with three of their ten unanswered goals in Belarus having come against Sweden in their first group game. Yet history cautioned against complacency. In 2005 Russia recovered from a 4-0 opening-day defeat by France to edge Les Bleuettes on penalties in the final while the previous year Spain turned a 7-0 group-stage loss to Germany into a 2-1 victory. There was no repeat in Borisov, however, as first-half goals from birthday girl Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs earned England their maiden UEFA European Women's U19 Championship title.
Indeed, the tournament brought a host of new entries for the competition annals and when Mo Marley lauded her England players for "setting the path and not following the trail", she could have been referring to the finals as a whole. The 4,500 who turned out for the final took the aggregate number of tournament spectators beyond the 40,000 mark, almost tripling the previous best of 14,773 set in 2006.
That brought some consolation for the hosts, who had finished on the wrong end of a record 9-0 defeat by a Germany team which still failed to reach the last four. The last word was England's, however, as they became the first winners to go through the tournament without conceding.