Spain claimed only their second-ever women’s title in Nyon on Saturday, edging out Republic of Ireland on penalties in the final of the UEFA European Women’s Under-17 Championship. The two sides had drawn 0-0 in normal time, with the Spaniards taking the penalty decider 4-1.
Spain’s victory was recompense for their defeat at the same stage of last year’s competition, when they lost out to Germany. The Spaniards were made to wait, however, as the Irish matched them during 80 minutes of normal time and 20 minutes of extra-time. Successful penalty-kicks from Sara Merida, Laura Gutierrez and Amanda Sampedro gave the girls in red the edge in the shootout, with Rianna Jarrett and Jessica Gleeson both missing for the Irish. Ciara O’Brien then cut the deficit only for Ana Maria Catala to seal Spain’s win by stroking home the fourth penalty.
La Roja coach Jorge Vilda was understandably delighted at his side’s hard-fought triumph. “We thoroughly deserved this win because we worked hard all the way through the match, even though the goal wouldn’t come for us,” he said before turning his thoughts to the world finals: “We’re not going to be on holiday now; anything but. We’re going to start preparing for the World Cup. This is a team that has to aspire to bigger things.”
Trinidad and Tobago 2010 will be the Spaniards’ second appearance at a FIFA women’s competition after the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Thailand 2004, where they finished bottom of their section. The newly crowned European champions have been drawn into Group C along with New Zealand, Venezuela and Japan, who provide their opponents in their opening game on 6 September.
Making their debut in a FIFA women’s tournament, runners-up Republic of Ireland are in Group D with Brazil, Canada and Ghana, while Germany, who finished third at New Zealand 2008 will take on Mexico, Korea Republic and South Africa in Group B.