Germany lifted the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship trophy in Belarus and will be joined by final opponents Spain and third-placed England at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016 in Jordan.
The Germans held their nerve to defeat Spain 3-2 on penalties in an enthralling encounter played out in front of a 10,200-strong crowd in Borisov. Goalkeeper Leonie Doege saved two spot-kicks to pave the way for Caroline Siems to convert the final penalty and secure Germany’s fifth European title in this age category.
“I’m so proud of my entire team, and I mean all of them, from the players to the team behind the team,” victorious coach Anouschka Bernhard told dfb.de. “We’re over the moon about becoming European champions. I’m proud of what the girls have achieved and how they’ve conducted themselves,” she said, adding: “Of course we’ll now be looking towards the World Cup, but for the moment we’re enjoying this feeling of pure joy.”
England beat Norway 2-1 earlier in the day to finish third and book their ticket to Jordan 2016. A brace from Niamh Charles gave the Young Lionesses reason to celebrate, while Sophie Haug’s equaliser briefly gave the Scandinavians hope. “[I’m] incredibly proud of the players and staff… the outcome has been worth the journey,” tweeted England coach John Griffiths in delight after the match.
Favourites progress as Lionesses roar
Spain and Germany had already met at the start of the tournament, contesting a Group B match that ended in stalemate at 2-2. While Las Rojitas went on to record 1-0 and 3-1 wins over Czech Republic and Italy respectively to finish as group winners, the Germans battled to a goalless draw against the Italians before seeing off the Czechs 4-0 to secure second place and progress to the last four.
Meanwhile England shone in Group A, sweeping to the semi-finals with nine points and 19 goals to their name. Norway finished as group runners-up, following up a narrow 3-2 win over the Young Lionesses by beating Serbia and Belarus 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. As a result, the group stages passed without any big surprises, leaving the competition’s top four sides to compete for World Cup tickets and the European crown.
The formidable Spaniards pulled no punches in the first semi-final, overpowering their Scandinavian opponents 4-0 to reach their sixth European final in this age group.
Meanwhile, those hoping for a last-four thriller between Germany and England were not left disappointed, with the former ultimately prevailing 4-3 to reach their fifth UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship final.
*Experienced Old Continent teams heading to the World Cup *Germany’s appearance at Jordan 2016 marks their sixth trip to a U-17 Women’s World Cup and maintains their perfect record of qualifying for the tournament. Despite this impressive streak, they have yet to lift the trophy, with third place in 2008 still their best finish to date.
Spain have featured at two previous U-17 Women’s World Cups. *Las Rojitas *finished third at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, while their appearance in the final in Costa Rica two years ago means they travel to Jordan as reigning runners-up.
England’s progression to the finals means there will be no European debutants at Jordan 2016, after the Young Lionesses announced their arrival in the competition with a fourth-place finish in New Zealand back in 2008.
All that remains now is to see whether anyone can emulate France’s 2012 triumph in Azerbaijan to become the second team from the Old Continent to lift the trophy.
7. Czech Republic
- Qualified for Jordan 2016 *
*Top scorers: *Alessia Russo (England) 5
Lorena Navarro (Spain) 5
Niamh Charles (England) 4
Vanessa Ziegler (Germany) 4