- Spain win Women’s *U-19 EURO after three successive final defeats*
- Patricia Guijarro tournament top goalscorer with five
- Four nations book U-20 Women’s World Cup berths, joining hosts France
Spain put their UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship final heartbreak to rest on Sunday after twice battling back from a goal down to defeat France in an action-packed final in Belfast, Northern Ireland. La Roja *had tasted defeat in three successive finals going into their clash with *Les Bleuettes; against Netherlands (2014), Sweden (2015) and France (2016).
Another defeat looked to be on the cards for Pedro Lopez’s side when they were trailing 2-1 with five minutes of normal time remaining. But two late goals from set-pieces – Damaris Egurrola grabbing the equaliser before tournament top goalscorer Patricia Guijarro bagged a dramatic injury-time winner – ensured La Roja were crowned continental champions.
“The key behind our victory is the union of this team,” head coach Lopez told FIFA.com. “There is a real strong bond amongst everyone and it’s why we’ve won this tournament. The U-20 Women’s World Cup will be another chance for our team to grow and we’ll prepare for that tournament as best as we can.”
Both sides played out the Women’s U-19 EURO final knowing they would already be at the FIFA U-20 Women’s Cup next year. As host nation of the tournament, France were already assured of their berth, while Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and England had also booked their places.
In a lively first half, Mathilde Bourdieu got Les Bleuettes off to the perfect start by opening the scoring on four minutes, converting Emelyne Laurent’s delivery with a cool, close-range finish. Spain soon grabbed an equaliser when Paula Fernandez’s corner found Guijarro in the centre of the box and the prolific No8 levelled the scoring.
Laurent, a livewire going forward, fired France back in front on 71 minutes after racing onto the end of Julie Thibaud’s through-ball, showing great composure to lift the ball past Ramos.
Just as it looked like France were going to retain their title, Spain equalised with five minutes remaining when Egurrola headed home Carmen Menayo’s free-kick. Things went from bad to worse for France when they were reduced to ten players after Pauline Dechilly was shown a second yellow card, before Guijarro bagged a dramatic injury-time winner through yet another set-piece, her fifth goal of the tournament, after heading home another Menayo free-kick.
Four secure France 2018 berths
At the eight-team competition, winners Spain, the Netherlands and Germany booked their tickets at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup after progressing to the semi-finals of the Women’s U-19 EURO.
With France also reaching the final four and already assured of their U-20 Women’s World Cup place as hosts, England and Scotland - the two third-placed teams at the group stage - went head to head in a play-off to decide the final berth. The Young Lionesses ran out 2-0 winners against their neighbours, with Zoe Cross and Mollie Rouse registering themselves on the scoresheet, ensuring a fifth U-20 Women’s World Cup appearance for England.
Oceania champions New Zealand are currently the only other team outside of Europe to qualify for France 2018, which will run from 7 to 26 August.
*Spirited hosts *While Northern Ireland may not have progressed beyond the group stages of the Women’s U-19 EURO, it was nevertheless a tournament to remember for the hosts. Alfie Wylie’s side kicked off their campaign in front of a bumper crowd at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, in a spirited 2-0 defeat against eventual winners Spain. It was in their next match that they would go on to record a little bit of history, however, scoring their first goal and recording their first point at a major international women’s tournament.
Seventeen-year-old Louise McDaniel bagged a dramatic late equaliser to secure Northern Ireland a point against Scotland, much to the delight of the home crowd at Lurgan’s Mourneview Park. With Wylie also in charge of the senior team, those that impressed for Northern Ireland at this tournament could very well be appearing in FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifiers, which commence in Europe next month.
*The stat 5 *– the number of times Patricia Guijarro found the back of the net at the Women’s U-19 EURO, making her the tournament’s top scorer. Former recipients of the Golden Boot at the competition include notable names such as Vivianne Miedema, Sofia Jakobsson and Anja Mittag.
The final *France 2-3 Spain
*Goals: 1-0 (Mathilde Bourdieu (4’), 1-1 Patricia Guijarro (18’), 2-1 Emelyne Laurent (71’), Damaris Egurrola (85’), Patricia Guijarro (90’)