"It's very difficult to deal with a player like that," Spain coach Jorge Vilda rued after his side's final defeat by Stina Blackstenius-inspired Sweden. "It's like playing against a team with Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in it – when they're that much better than the rest it's hard to get hold of them."
True enough, like so many before them in the 2014/15 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, Spain were simply unable to subdue the tall and pacy No9 when she announced herself 24 minutes into the final with a barnstorming run that left two defenders trailing in her wake. It became a familiar image.
For 25 minutes either side of half-time Blackstenius was simply unplayable, every bit the "animal" captain Nathalie Björn had billed her on the eve of the game. She scored twice, taking her tally to an incredible tally of 20 in ten games for the season – nobody had previously managed more than Elena Danilova's 17 set in 2005/06.
Indeed, she already had 14 from qualifying and picked up where she left off in Israel by scoring twice against the hosts on the opening day. She then won Sweden's penalty in a 1-0 victory over Denmark next time out. With progress assured, Blackstenius sat out the France defeat before returning with a bang in the semi-final against Germany.
Having played a part in Sweden's first goal, she scored the other two, the second a late equaliser. The Linköping forward duly converted from the spot in the shoot-out, cool as you like. Remarkably, she had left the best until last, brushing Spain aside – a late assist made sure – as Sweden wrapped up their second title. A couple of weeks later Blackstenius scored in Linköping's 2-0 Swedish Cup final defeat of Rosengård, giving a hint of her senior potential.
Blackstenius' record-breaking season
• Breaks record for all-time qualifying goals – 24
• Breaks record for goals in single season – 20
• Equals record for qualifying goals in single season – 14 (with Jovana Damnjanović in 2013/14)
• Equals record for season top scorer prizes – 2 (with Danilova in 2004/05, 2005/06)
• Goes second on all-time scoring list – 32 (Danilova hit 33)
Squad of the tournament
Goalkeepers: Lena Pauels (Germany), Caitlin Leach (England).
Defenders: Théa Greboval (France), Rebecca Knaak (Germany), Pauline Dhaeyer (France), Rocío Galvez (Spain), Felicitas Rauch (Germany), Nathalie Björn (Sweden).
Midfielders: Jodie Brett (England), Pilar Garrote (Spain), Juliane Gathrat (France), Maёlle Garbino (France), Sandra Hérnandez (Spain).
Forwards: Stina Blackstenius (Sweden), Tove Almqvist (Sweden), Nahikari Garcia (Spain), Eden Avital (Israel), Madeline Gier (Germany).
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