Spain finally go one better

After losing three finals in a row, Spain at last clinched their second WU19 EURO title with a dramatic late comeback in Belfast to dethrone their 2016 nemeses France.

Spain Women's Under-19 team
©Sportsfile

When Spain went 2-1 down to France with 19 minutes left in the 2017 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final in Belfast, it seemed history was repeating itself.

Spain had lost three finals in a row between 2014 and 2016, the last a defeat by France in rainy Slovakia. However, this time there was to be a happy ending for Spain, who clinched their second title at this level with a dramatic rally.

WU19 final highlights
Watch: Spain's final triumph

Hosts Northern Ireland were making their bow in a women's final tournament and in front of more than 4,000 fans at Windsor Park lost 2-0 to Spain on the opening day. Germany, keen to end a run of six years since their last title, beat Scotland 3-0 then overcame Spain 2-0 to qualify from Group A with a game to spare.

That was because Northern Ireland and Scotland drew 1-1 but the hosts found it tough in their last game, falling 6-0 to Germany. Scotland needed to beat Spain to pip them to the semis but instead lost 1-0.

Two days before the tournament began, the Netherlands had won UEFA Women's EURO 2017 on home soil and their U19s picked up where their seniors left off, overcoming both France and England 2-0 to clinch Group B with a match to spare. France and England both beat Italy to set up a last-day decider. France, ahead on goal difference, needed only a draw, but won 1-0 to go through with the Dutch, who scored a last-gasp equaliser to draw 3-3 with already-elimintaed Italy.

WU19 EURO semi-final highlights: Netherlands 2-3 Spain
Semi-final highlights: Netherlands 2-3 Spain

England had the consolation of beating Scotland 2-0 to join the four semi-finalists in the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France. France, meanwhile, ensured Germany's run without a title would continue as they came from behind to win their semi-final 2-1.

It was even more dramatic in the earlier semi-final as Spain knocked out the Netherlands for the second year running at that stage, triumphing 3-2. So, once again, they were matched with France for the final.

WU19 EURO semi-final highlights: Germany 1-2 France
Semi-final highlights: Germany 1-2 France

Just four minutes in, Mathilde Bourdieu put France ahead but Patricia Guijarro did not take long to level. However, when Emelyne Laurent made it 2-1 to France in the 71st minute, another final loss loomed for Spain.

That changed when Damaris Egurrola got her head to an 85th-minute Carmen Menayo free-kick and shortly afterwards France lost Pauline Dechilly to a second yellow card. Still, extra time looked likely until in the 90th minute Spain's set-piece ability was again to the fore, Menayo's free-kick nodded in by Guijarro for her finals-leading, and winning, fifth in Northern Ireland.

Guijarro said: "We're very happy to have not only reached the final but to have emerged winners, after years of falling short. For us, to have won against France, who beat us last year, is very special."

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