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Controversial conclusion as spot-kick supplies Spanish success

The last-ever UEFA European Under-16 Championship final match provided immense drama as Spain left it late to overcome the odds and defeat a much-fancied French side in front of a crowd of 31,100 at Sunderland AFC's Stadium of Light.

Spain in celebratory mood following their UEFA European Under-16 Championship success (©Empics)
Spot-kick strike

The only goal of the game came in the 76th minute when Fernando Torres converted from the penalty spot after Julio Colombo was adjudged to have handled the ball by English match official Andy D'Urso. Torres stepped up to coolly slot the ball past Florent Chaigneau in the France goal to give Spain a surprise victory and score his seventh goal in the finals.
But further tension followed and tempers frayed as French penalty claims were waved away in stoppage time when members of Jean-François Jodar's side appealed for handball inside the Spanish box. After the final whistle, the French squad continued to protest their claims, but by then the attention had switched to the victors, who over the 80 minutes had deserved the win.

Diego León is lofted into the air by Miguel Moya as Spain celebrate winning the last-ever UEFA European Under-16 Championship (©Empics)
Tight game

Overall, chances during the match came were at a premium, but Spain offered a more consistent threat with Juan Melli and Francisco Tarrantino particularly outstanding.
France, on the other hand, seemed to struggle with playmaker Mourad Menghi absent and six-goal striker Florent Sinama Pongolle starved of decent service.

'Evenly balanced' - Santisteban
"It was a very evenly balanced match with some end-to-end football," remarked Spanish coach Juan Santisteban. "Both sides created some dangerous situations, and it was the team with more luck that ultimately prevailed. It was vital for us to take control of midfield and stop France dominating in the way that they have done in their previous matches.
"They pushed us hard in the second half, but we managed to restrict them to only a couple of clear chances. France are undoubtedly a great team, and I am extremely proud that my boys managed to beat them to win this championship."

'Bitter taste' - Jodar
"The game was effectively decided by refereeing decisions: the penalty that was given to Spain, and the one not given to us a couple of minutes later," stated a disappointed Jean-François Jodar, coach of the French team. "The referee even whistled for full time as we were in an excellent attacking situation. But we were beaten by an excellent Spanish team who were collectively stronger than us. As a result, we had to defend more than we usually have to, and as a result we failed to create many scoring chances.
"Early on, they made us suffer as we chased the ball, but we managed to even things out a little more during the second half. Even if the way the final was decided leaves a bitter taste, I am very satisfied with my team and getting to the final is an excellent start for this group of players to build upon."

 


06.05.2001
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